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Ice-free Alps just a matter of decades?

Der Rhonegletscher.

Large glaciers still exist in the Alps. © http://www.gletscher.ch

A new study by the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Research Group led by glaciologist Michael Zemp of the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich/CH provides real figures on the past, present and potential future glacier cover in the Alps.
A new study by the Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Research Group led by glaciologist Michael Zemp of the Department of Geography at the University of Zurich/CH provides real figures on the past, present and potential future glacier cover in the Alps.
The study combines in-situ measurements, remote sensing techniques and numerical modelling for equilibrium line altitudes. As the findings show, Alpine glaciers lost 35% of their total area between 1850 and the 1970s, and almost 50% by 2000. Using numerical models the authors show that a 3 °C warming of summer air temperature by 2100 would reduce the current glacier cover by some 80%. In the event of a 5 °C increase, the Alps would become ice-free. Annual precipitations would have to increase by 25% to offset the consequences of an increase in summer temperatures of one degree on glacier cover.
Bibliography: Zemp, M. et al (2006) Alpine glaciers to disappear within decades? In Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 33, www.agu.org/pubs/crossref/2006/2006GL026319 (en)