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Glacier data from outer space

ESA Satellit

Satellit ers-1 der europäischen Weltraumorganisation ESA © ESA International

With the aid of new satellites glaciologists in Zurich are now able to study the world's ice regions with greater precision than before. The results of the data surveys are not encouraging: the Alps' glaciers are melting at a much faster rate than previously thought. Major changes have been noted in an increasing number of glaciers. The Zurich glaciologists are definite in their diagnosis: there is now no stopping the shrinkage of alpine glaciers.
GEO reporters have also described the risks posed to the Alps and their inhabitants by glacier shrinkage in the February 2006 issue of the GEO magazine. From the high-altitude Alps of France to the Engadine, from the Piedmont to the Ötztal and the Hohentauern range, glaciated regions are to see an increase in the frequency of flooding, ice and debris avalanches, over-spilling glacier lakes and rock falls caused by thawing moraines. On the Monte Rosa Massif for instance glacial lakes regularly form on both the Swiss and the Italian sides, and they could completely destroy neighbouring villages if they were to overspill.
Information: www.zdf.de/ZDFde/inhalt/26/0,1872,3274042,00 (de); GEO February 2006 issue, www.geo.de/ (de)