SHARE
COPY LINK

WEATHER

Swiss glaciers continue to shrink despite heavy snow in 2021

A mild summer and a snowier than usual winter failed to help Switzerland's glaciers, which continue to recede.

This file photograph taken on August 25, 2021, shows a view of the Aletsch Glacier. Swiss glaciers lost 1percent of their volume in 2021 despite abundant snow and a cool summer, due to climate change, the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences revealed
Swiss glaciers lost 1percent of their volume in 2021 despite abundant snow and a cool summer, due to climate change, the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences revealed. This file photograph taken on August 25, 2021, shows a view of the Aletsch Glacier. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland’s glaciers are continuing to shrink as a result of climate change, even if snowfall was heavy this year and the summer comparatively cool, a top scientific panel said on Tuesday.

“The volume of Swiss glaciers decreased by almost one percent in 2021, in spite of plentiful snow in winter and a pretty cool summer,” the Cryospheric Commission of the Swiss Academy of Sciences said in a report.

“In terms of weather, the conditions were right in 2021 to give the glaciers a breather,” the report said.

“Unfortunately, in times of climate change, even a ‘good’ year is not good enough for the glaciers: The loss of ice continued, albeit at a slower pace, despite abundant snow in the winter and a comparatively cool and mixed summer weather.”

The snowfall was heavier than usual in May, the panel said.

READ MORE: What will the ski season look like in Switzerland this year?

On the Claridenfirn mountain of 2,890 metres (9,500 feet), seven metres of snow fell — the most since observations began in 1914.

“Nevertheless, the melt had been considerable by the end of September, and throughout Switzerland some 400 million tonnes of ice had been lost over the last 12 months, almost one percent of the remaining glacier volume.”

The Swiss glacier monitoring network, GLAMOS, documented ice loss on all 22 glaciers, the scientists said.

“Although the losses were smaller than in recent years, no gains were recorded for any of the glaciers,” the report said.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

SPORT

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

Hundreds of runners braved a lung-busting ascent into the Alps in Switzerland's Glacier 3000 Run on Saturday, albeit on a shortened course due to summer heatwaves melting the ice.

IN PICTURES: Runners take on Swiss glacier race despite melt

The event’s 14th edition was back without limitations after being cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19 and run in 2021 with restrictions imposed due to the pandemic.

The race is normally run over 26.2 kilometres but was contested on a slightly modified 25.2km course this year due to the glacier melting, with the last pass over its surface shortened.

Runners make their way under a ski lift  on the glacier run in Switzerland

Runners make their way under a ski lift during the last kilometres of the Glacier 3000 run. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

“The accelerated melting of the top layer of the glacier has created a camber and a soft layer which the runner sinks into,” said race director Oliver Hermann.

“Rather than intervening to flatten the track, we preferred to deviate the course.”

Runners on last stretch of Switzerland's glacier run

On the final stretch of this year’s shortened course. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

The finish line is 1,886 metres higher than the start, at nearly 3,000 metres up in the mountains by the Scex Rouge peak.

READ ALSO: Heatwaves close off classic Swiss and Italian Alpine hiking routes

The route begins in the jet-set ski resort town of Gstaad, at 1,050 metres above sea level.

It passes through forests, green mountain pastures before heading into rocky lunar-like landscapes and taking in the Tsanfleuron Glacier.

The course follows the Saane river upstream for 15 km before climbing up 1,800 metres over the remaining 10 km to the finish line — at an altitude of 2,936 metres.

A couple hold their hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets

A couple hold hands while walking on the melting Tsanfleuron Glacier above Les Diablerets, where the Glacier 3000 Run took place on August 6th. (Photo by Fabrice Coffrini / AFP)

Some 311 men and 98 women completed the individual course, while 50 two-person teams also took part.

READ ALSO: Why Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster than usual this summer

The first man to finish was Kenyan competitor Geoffrey Ndungu in two hours and 17 minutes. He had finished in second place last year.

He was followed by compatriot Abraham Ebenyo Ekwam in 2:21 and then Switzerland’s Jonathan Schmid in 2:23.

Victoria Kreuzer was the first woman to finish, in 2:46, ahead of Nicole Schindler and Pascale Rebsamen — a Swiss clean sweep.

SHOW COMMENTS