Global warning strikes the Matterhorn

Global warming is reportedly having a dramatic effect on the Matterhorn in the European Alps, with landslides and flaking becoming more numerous.

The landslides are being caused by retreating ice cover, with zero temperatures now found only above approximately 13,000 feet (4,000 meters), global warming expert Michele Comi told the Italian news agency ANSA.

"This means that all the rock fractures generally held together by the ice, which acts as a glue, give way because the ice melts, leading to a situation of instability" said Comi. "Geologically speaking, the process is normal. What isn't normal is the acceleration of these phenomena.

"The classic ice-and-snow-climbing routes aren't accessible in July any more. That is a huge anomaly," Comi added.

Stefano Mayr of Mountain Wilderness Italia said the effects of global warming are obvious. "All you have to do is take a climbing guide from 15 years ago," Mayr told ANSA. "A spot that is described in the book as a snow-covered ridge is now gravel."

The Matterhorn is located on the border between Italy and Switzerland.

Copyright 2006 by United Press International

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