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Energy supplies at risk from shrinking glaciers

The shrinkage of the Mer de Glace in the French Alps is having a tangible impact on the use of hydropower.
The sizeable shrinkage of the glacier is threatening the supply of the Bois hydropower station, which is fed by the runoff from the glacier. Since 1850 the overall length of the glacier has shrunk by 150 m and has on average lost around half its thickness. The glacier is currently losing around 30 m of its length and 4 to 6 m of its height every year. In view of the glacier's shrinkage the water catchment point at 1,490 m above sea level is now proving too low. The new catchment is to be relocated some 1,000 m higher up, at a site where the glacier currently has a thickness of around 200 m.
The power plant, which was built in the 1970s at a cost of around €20 m, currently supplies electricity to 40,000 people with an output of 115 million kWh a year.
Source: www.lefigaro.fr/sciences (fr), 25.04.2008