Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Alpine glaciers could all but disappear within this century

10.07.2006
The European Alps could lose some 80 percent of their glacier cover by the end of this century, if summer air temperatures rise by three degrees Celsius [five degrees Fahrenheit]. And if temperatures increase by five degrees Celsius [nine degrees Fahrenheit], the Alps would become almost completely ice-free by 2100.

These are the conclusions of numerical modeling experiments by scientists from the University of Zurich, Switzerland. The study will be published 15 July in Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the American Geophysical Union.

Scientists consider glaciers to be among the best natural indicators of climate change and, therefore, monitor them closely. Rapidly shrinking glacier areas, spectacular tongue retreats, and increasing mass losses are clear signs of the atmospheric warming observed in the Alps during the last 150 years.

Michael Zemp and colleagues in the Department of Geography of the University of Zurich note that in the 1970s, about 5,150 Alpine glaciers covered a total area of 2,909 square kilometers [1,123 square miles]. This represented a loss of about 35 percent of glacial area from 1850 to that time. Accelerated loss of ice cover since then has resulted in a total loss of 50 percent of the 1850 area, culminating in a volume loss of 5 to 10 percent of the remaining ice during the extraordinary warm year of 2003.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), an increase in summer air temperature of one to five degrees Celsius [two to nine degrees Fahrenheit] and a precipitation change between minus-20 percent and plus-30 percent by the end of the 21st century is a plausible scenario. The University of Zurich researchers say that for each one degree Celsius [two degrees Fahrenheit] increase in mean summer temperature, precipitation would have to increase by 25 percent to offset the glacial loss.

"Our study shows that under such scenarios, the majority of Alpine glaciers might disappear within the coming decades", says glaciologist Zemp, lead author of the study. With an increase in summer temperature of more than three degree Celsius [five degrees Fahrenheit], only the largest glaciers, such as the Great Aletsch Glacier [in Switzerland], and those on the highest mountain peaks could survive into the 22nd century. "Especially in densely populated high mountain areas such as the European Alps, one should start immediately to consider the consequences of such extreme glacier wasting on the hydrological cycles, water management, tourism, and natural hazards," he says.

The study was funded by the European Union, through the Swiss Federal Office of Education and Science.

Harvey Leifert | American Geophysical Union
Further information:
http://www.agu.org
http://www.geo.unizh.ch

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht How much biomass grows in the savannah?
16.02.2017 | Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>