At the moment, most eyes are trained on the Arctic ice, with the general public closely wondering when climate change will wreak havoc not just on the ice itself but for the inhabitants living there. But while there’s definite cause to worry about the ice from the Arctic steadily melting before our eyes, scientists have discovered that the sweltering heat wave has wreaked havoc on Europe’s coldest places as well.
This development comes from the initial findings of the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network (GLAMOS), which state that since late July, the record-breaking heat wave has led to unusually high melt rates in the Swiss glaciers.
“Absolutely exceptional for a period of only 14 days in total,” tweeted Matthias Huss, a glaciologist with Swiss University ETH Zurich and head of GLAMOS. According to the same tweet, the last two heat waves contributed to a loss of about 800 million metric tons of ice.
However, Huss also said in a recent interview that the estimate still isn’t final and was based on an early analysis of on-site measurements at chosen sites. The estimate was also combined with a model that proceeds to scale up the measurements in order to provide an approximation of the total gallons of ice lost in the country. Following this, he said that by the end of the summer, a more detailed analysis will be released, one that will be forming an estimate by comparing the losses to that of previous summers.
Despite this, the data that’s been released at the moment already prove that the losses have been unusually rapid.
What’s also more devastating is that the glaciers started the summer by receiving an above-average level of snow cover. In fact, scientists were hopeful that the season would end strongly as compared to previous ones. However, things quickly took a turn for the worse after the first heat wave struck.
“Now we are really seeing almost every year another extreme year. And this is what is actually a problem,” Huss said.
Similar dire projections have also been made to other regions with mountain glaciers similar to that of Europe, such as the Himalayas and the Hindi Kush.