Sunshine speeded 1940s Swiss glacier melt: scientists

December 14, 2009
A view of the Swiss Alps at Matterhorn. A surge in sunshine more than 60 years ago helped Swiss mountain glaciers melt faster than today, even though warmer average temperatures are being recorded now, Swiss researchers said Monday.

A surge in sunshine more than 60 years ago helped Swiss mountain glaciers melt faster than today, even though warmer average temperatures are being recorded now, Swiss researchers said Monday.

Their study into the impact of on made the "surprising discovery" that in the 1940s, and especially summer 1947, the ice floes lost the most ice since measurements begin 95 years ago, according to Zurich's Federal Institute of Technology (ETHZ).

Yet, average temperatures have been rising in the past two decades and scientists have said glacier melt is accelerating at unprecedented levels under the impact of climate change.

"The surprising thing is that this paradox can be explained relatively easily with radiation," said one the ETHZ researchers, Matthias Huss, in the university's online review.

"This should not lead people to conclude that the current period of global warming is not really as big of a problem for the glaciers as previously assumed," he added.

The researchers found from historic data on three Swiss glaciers, as well as radiation recordings from the eastern Alpine town of Davos, that the level of sunshine in the 1940s was eight percent higher than average and significantly higher than now.

As a result, snow and ice melted by about four percent.

A phase of less sunshine -- global dimming -- from the 1950s to 1980s also corresponded with the advance in the snout of .

However, the ETHZ scientists said they also found that "temperature-based opposing mechanisms" came into play about 30 years ago and have been sustained.

The study published in the peer reviewed journal "" is part of broader reseach into the impact of climate change on the Alps and the role of solar radiation in .

Studies have shown that can vary substantially due to cloud cover and aerosols -- particles and gases -- in the atmosphere.

(c) 2009 AFP

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2.2 / 5 (10) Dec 14, 2009
More proof that AGW is a bunch of Garbage. I've been told many time that glaciers are melting due to global warming.... but the sun can melt them too. Who would have thought it....
4 / 5 (2) Dec 14, 2009
freethinking: The idea that clouds and particulate mater can interfere with sunshine is not a negation of AGW. What it means is that we need to better understand clouds (one of the most severe problems in the global climate models) and particulates better. It may or may not strengthen AGW claims. However, you cannot make the jump to a claim that this is either positive or negative for AGW. Too many people on both sides of this concept are ready to jump when they see anything that hints at support for their "cause." Please be rational and realize that single articles like this do not prove anything about AGW, they just raise more areas that need to be better understood. What could be said is: "The climate change models need to be able to reproduce local variation of this type before they can be relied on to make local or regional claims." However, note I am talking about local and regional claims not global claims from this type of information.
2 / 5 (4) Dec 14, 2009
"suprising discover" sunlight melts glaciers. ahaha what will they think of next. Silly scientists.
2 / 5 (4) Dec 14, 2009
they just raise more areas that need to be better understood

Which is another way of saying, the science AGW theory is presently based on is very incomplete and it's results therefore very uncertain. The science is not settled.

Which is another way of saying, AGW theorists are pushing for damaging economic policy without actually caring about the science or carbons true role in global climate.

Which is another way of saying, we should not make any drastic policy decisions based on present AGW theory.

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