Glaciers in the Alps are melting faster than ever — and 2022 was their worst summer yet

Source: The post is based on the article “Glaciers in the Alps are melting faster than ever — and 2022 was their worst summer yet” published in Down To Earth on 26th October 2022

What is the News?

In 2022, glaciers in the Swiss Alps melted more than any other year on record. 

About the melting of Glaciers in the Alps Mountains

In 2022, Glaciers in the Alps mountains lost about 6% of their remaining volume—exceeding the previous record in 2003 when losses were almost 4%.

One reason for the significant amount of melting in 2022 was the small amount of snowfall in winter. 

Due to this, the snow melted quickly, sped up in spring by the warming effect of dust from the Sahara Desert falling on the snow. (Since dust absorbs more solar energy than snow, the now orange-tinted snow melted faster).

By early summer, the glaciers had lost their protective blanket of snow, leaving them vulnerable to the summer heat.

What are the consequences of Glacier Melting?

The extent of glacier melting depends on the altitude at which it is located, the steeper the glacier tongue is the heavier it is covered with debris.

In Switzerland, these glacial meltwaters are used for hydropower. So, one consequence is that melting glaciers help to compensate for low rainfall in times of drought, filling reservoirs to supply the nation’s energy supply.

Melting glaciers have also created more than 1,000 new lakes across the mountains.

About Alps Mountains

The Alps emerged during the Alpine orogeny (mountain-building event), an event that began about 65 million years ago as the Mesozoic Era was drawing to a close.

The Alps are young fold mountains with rugged relief and high conical peaks. They are the most prominent of Western Europe’s physiographic regions.

Countries covered: The Alps form part of France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Serbia, and Albania. But only Switzerland and Austria can be considered true Alpine countries.

Highest Peak: Mont Blanc is the highest peak in the Alps and in Europe, reaching a lofty 4,804 meters above sea level. It is located in the Graian Alps and lies within France, Switzerland, and Italy.

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