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Biggest Alpine Glacier Aletsch Could Disappear In This Century: Study

Written By Tanima Ray | Mumbai | Published:


  • The largest glacier in the Alps, namely Aletsch could completely melt away by the year 2100 if nothing is done to cease the Climate Change
  • Using a cutting edge simulation, a group of Swiss researchers showed what will happen to the Glacier if the earth continues to get warmer

A study published on September 13 stated that the largest glacier in the Alps, Aletsch, could completely melt away by the year 2100 if we do nothing to cease the Climate Change. As per ETH technical university in Zurich, using a a cutting edge simulation, a group of Swiss researchers showed what will happen to the glacier if the earth continues to get warmer. Until now the tongue of the glacier has melted for about 0.6 miles which is around 11 billion tonnes of ice. Scientists said that the reduction in ice will continue even if the Paris Agreement target of capping global warming at well below 2 degrees Celsius is met.

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The ETH Study

The scientists, Guillaume Jouvet and Matthias Huss work at ETH's Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology. What their presentation showed was the glacier seen from the Eggishorn and Jungfraujoch peaks, which tower 2,927 and 3,466 metres above sea level, as it rapidly recedes over the coming eight decades. They applied 3D glacier model simulations for the ice retreat using different established climate scenarios for Switzerland. The ice peaks were treated with different concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, and thus also different levels of global warming to establish the results. 

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The effects on Alpine Glacier

Aletsch is one of more than 4,000 glaciers dotted throughout the Alps, providing seasonal water to millions and forming some of Europe's most stunning landscapes. What will be left of the glacier by 2100 even in the best conditions will only be half of its entire stretch of 86 square kilometres (33 square miles) in the Swiss Alps. In the worst case, only a few patches of ice will remain which will account to about 90 percent of the total ice. If Switzerland's climate warms by 4-8 degree Celsius by 2100, 'a couple of measly patches of ice' will remain, Jouvet said. She added that Konkordiaplatz, which is directly below Jungfraujoch and still covered in about 800 metres (half a mile) of ice, will be completely ice-free.

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