Global glacier melt continues

Jan 29, 2009

Glaciers around the globe continue to melt at high rates. Tentative figures for the year 2007, of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, indicate a further loss of average ice thickness of roughly 0.67 meter water equivalent (m w.e.). Some glaciers in the European Alps lost up to 2.5 m w.e.

The new still tentative data of more than 80 glaciers confirm the global trend of fast ice loss since 1980. Glaciers with long-term observation series (30 glaciers in 9 mountain ranges) have experienced a reduction in total thickness of more than 11 m w.e. until 2007. The average annual ice loss during 1980-1999 was roughly 0.3 m w.e. per year. Since 2000, this rate has increased to about 0.7 m w.e. per year.

Michael Zemp, glaciologist and research associate of the WGMS, said: «The average ice loss in 2007 was not as extreme as in 2006, but there were large differences between mountain ranges. Glaciers in the European Alps lost up to 2.5 meters water equivalent of ice, whereas maritime glaciers in Scandinavia were able to gain more than a meter in thickness. However, 2007 is now the sixth year of this century in which the average ice loss of the reference glaciers has exceeded half a meter. This has resulted in a more than doubling of the melt rates of the 1980s and 90s.»

For the observation period 2007, dramatic ice losses were reported from glaciers in the European Alps, such as of the Hintereisferner (-1.8 m w.e.) or the Sonnblickkess (-2.2 m w.e.) in Austria, the Sarennes (-2.5 m w.e.) in France, the Caresčr (-2.8 m w.e.) in Italy, or of the Silvretta (-1.3 m w.e.) and Gries (-1.7 m w.e.) in Switzerland. In Norway, many maritime glaciers were able to gain mass, e.g. the Nigardsbreen (+1.0 m w.e.) or the Ĺlfotbreen (+1.3 m w.e.), although the glaciers further inland have continued to shrink, e.g. the Hellstugubreen or the Grľsubreen (both with -0.7 m w.e.).

All mass balance programmes in South American reported negative values ranging from -0.1 m w.e. at the Echaurren Norte in Chile to -2.2 m w.e. at the Ritacuba Negro in Columbia. In North America some positive values were reported from the North Cascade Mountains and the Juneau Ice Field together with a continued ice loss from the glaciers in the Kenai Mountains and the Alaskan Range as well as from Canada's Coast Mountains and High Arctic.

Measuring unit 'water equivalent':

Glaciologists express the annual mass balance, i.e. the gain or loss in thickness, of a glacier in 'meter water equivalent' (m w.e.). This standardized unit takes the different densities of change measurements in ice, firn and snow into account (see Photos 1 and 2). One meter of ice thickness corresponds to about 0.9 m w.e.

Source: University of Zurich

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User comments : 8

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GrayMouser
3 / 5 (10) Jan 29, 2009
Conversely, other glaciers around the world have the audacity to continue growing!
MikeB
3 / 5 (10) Jan 29, 2009
Hmmmm... What about 2008?
I think these guys need to get out more often.
The 2007 figures are still tentative? This is really a timely article, Physorg.
ryuuguu
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2009
It does seems a little slow but this is the latest data available, it is not physorgs fault. My guess is that funding not being huge for this it takes ime t get all the data in checked.
theophys
3.7 / 5 (3) Jan 30, 2009
I think its more the time it takes to do something with the data rather than how long it takes to get the data in. All the 2008 data has already been gathered and is up for interpretation by the masses. Unfortunatly, it takes the whole year to gather a viable sampling, it takes time to compare all the data to itself and that of other years, there's funerals to go to for all the scietists mauled by yetis, ect. It takes a lot to formulate a conclusion.
Arkaleus
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2009
Why do European governments have this endless fascination with totalitarianism? It's almost as if there is a climate conspiracy among government agencies and media groups to promote climate crisis as the new, universal threat requiring extraordinary new powers be given to government.

How many times do we need to make this social experiment, Europa?
mikiwud
5 / 5 (1) Feb 03, 2009
Why do European governments have this endless fascination with totalitarianism? It's almost as if there is a climate conspiracy among government agencies and media groups to promote climate crisis as the new, universal threat requiring extraordinary new powers be given to government.

How many times do we need to make this social experiment, Europa?


After the cock-up Europe (the EU, the Evil Union)has made with socialism, with a lead time to see the effect, why has the USA followed. Turkies looking forward to Thanksgiving or Christmas with optimism?
theophys
2.5 / 5 (2) Feb 04, 2009
How did it go from climate change to bashing socialism? Unrelated. Besides, if you're going to start bad mouthing socialism, I suggest you use an example that isn't from modern Europe. All the eurosocialists are doing pretty well.
GrayMouser
5 / 5 (1) Feb 04, 2009
How did it go from climate change to bashing socialism?

Because, with the failure of communism, there needed to be a new way to redistribute the wealth from the countries producing it to those incapable (for what ever reason, normally corruption) of producing it themselves. If you look at Kyoto and the IPCC that's all they are proposing, via carbon credits.