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Swiss glaciers: too much sun, not enough snow


As if 2020 weren't already a candidate as a world class annus horribilis because of the pandemic, economic collapse and wildfires fed by increasing temperatures, there's more bad news from Switzerland's glaciers.

Although the Alpine ice masses had a milder summer than the past few, they also had a winter with much lower than usual—record low, in fact—snow accumulation to feed the ice masses.

Matthias Huss, head of the Glacier Monitoring Network said in a recently-published study that while the temperatures were "a bit lower than the last three years, when we had extremely high temperatures... but still the glaciers lost a lot of mass," adding that a two percent loss per year "is really a lot."

How much can be seen in a comparison: the mass lost by Swiss glaciers in the past 60 years is equal to the volume of Lake Constance on the Swiss-German-Austrian border. The lake is more than 60 kilometers long and contains over 48 million cubic kilometers of water. Yes, that's kilometers.

A study last year by the ETH Technical University in Zurich estimated that at the present rate of loss, Europe would lose 95% of the volume of its 4,000 glaciers by 2100; even if the Paris climate accord were fully implemented, the study said, 2/3 would be lost.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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