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Toxic glacier melts

Nov 05, 2009 / alpMedia
A new study has confirmed that melting glaciers release chemical substances that have long been banned and are not longer produced by industry. Researchers from Swiss education institutes took frozen sediment core samples from the Oberaar reservoir in the Grimsel area in Switzerland and used the layers to reconstruct the history of the lake back to when it was first established in 1953.
The Oberaar lake
Image caption:
The Oberaar lake: a reservoir situated at 2300 m above sea level in the Bernese Oberland/CH ©Bolliger Hanspeter/
It appears that the number of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) has risen sharply since the 1990s. This increase is due to the higher melt rate of the Oberaar Glacier, which provides the lake with the bulk of its water, in recent decades. In the last ten years alone the glacier tongue has shrunk by more than 120 m, releasing relatively large quantities of stored toxic substances as a result. Environmental researchers have long suspected that glaciers represent serious secondary sources for new emissions of POPs into the environment, and this research now provides proof of that for the first time.
Sources: (de) (fr)