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Over half of Alpine glaciers could be gone by 2050 due to climate change

The Aletsch glacier in 2009, in Switzerland.  Release date – January 28, 2024.  See SWNS story SWSCglaciers.  More than half of the Alpine glaciers could be gone by 2050, a new study has revealed.   New research has shown that by 2050 the volume of ice in the European Alps could have fallen by 65%, based on the last ten years of global warming.  But even if warming rates continue as they did in the last 20 years, almost half the volume of ice will be lost (46 per cent).  And if the rate of warming stayed exactly the same as it is now, more than a third will vanish.  This study suggests that action is urgently needed to stop the rapid increase in global warming, but that it is already too late to completely save the glaciers.
New research has shown that by 2050 the volume of ice in the European Alps could have fallen by 65%, based on the last ten years of global warming. (SWNS)

More than half of the glaciers in the Alps could be gone by 2050 due to climate change, a new study has revealed.

New research has shown that by 2050 the volume of ice in the European Alps could have fallen by 65%, based on the last ten years of global warming. The research, led by the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, suggests urgent action is needed to stop the rapid increase in global warming, but it is already too late to save the alpine glaciers.

The team predicted that even if global warming were to stop immediately, by 2050 the volume of ice would have fallen by 34%. If warming rates continue as they have in the last 20 years, almost half the volume of ice (46%) will be lost.

The study comes as the UK recorded its hottest ever January temperature after a provisional record of 19.6C was measured in Kinlochewe, a village in the northwest Highlands, on Sunday (28 January).

It's not the first time research has highlighted the effects of global climate change. A government report in Peru showed that the country has lost 56% of its tropical glaciers in the last six decades due to climate change. Scientists have also pointed out the alarming effect of climate change on ocean temperatures.

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What does the latest study say?

The new study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, differs from traditional models, which project estimates for the end of the century, by considering the shorter term. Researchers hope this will make it easier for people to understand the changes they will see in their lifetime and therefore encourage action.

But they also suggested that things could be a lot worse than their predictions, which were made using a new computer model and AI algorithms, as the data used to build their scenarios only goes up to 2022. Dr Samuel Cook, from the team behind the study, said: "How old will our children be in 2050? Will there still be snow in 2038, when Switzerland may host the Olympic Games?

"These estimates are all the more important as the disappearance of kilometers of ice will have marked consequences for the population, infrastructure and water reserves.

"The data used to build the scenarios stop in 2022, a year that was followed by an exceptionally hot summer. It is therefore likely that the situation will be even worse than the one we present."

What are the other effects of climate change on Europe?

Temperature records have been breaking all over Europe in January, according to Maximiliano Herrera, a climatologist who tracks global weather extremes. In January they have included Madeira, areas of France, and also Scotland as suggested by the Met Office.

Last summer, temperatures around 40C were recorded all over southern Europe in July. The UK has also experienced winter heatwaves recently, with 21.2C recorded in February 2021 in London, 14.2C higher than average.

Spain was hit with scorching temperatures last week, despite it being winter, with some areas seeing 30C. In Calles in Valencia, temperatures of 30.7C were recorded on Thursday, marking the highest temperature ever recorded in Spain in January.

Other towns reached highs of 28C, while temperatures of up to 26C in Andalusia in southern Spain were recorded, according to reports.