Arctic Sea Ice : Forum

Cryosphere => Glaciers => Topic started by: JimD on September 02, 2013, 06:28:48 PM

Title: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: JimD on September 02, 2013, 06:28:48 PM
The Swiss Alpine glaciers' response to the global '2 °C air temperature target'
Nadine Salzmann et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 044001

This paper models the effect on a selection of 101 Swiss glaciers to a 2C temperature rise using the IPCC scenario A1B.  This covers 50% of the glaciated area and 75% of the ice volume in Switzerland.

Under this scenario, which seems very optimistic to me, their conclusion is the following:
....and all glaciers have fully adjusted to the new climate conditions at around 2150. By this time and relative to the year 2000, the glacierized area and volume are both decreased to about 35% and 20%, respectively, and glacier-based runoff is reduced by about 70%.

Under this scenario the runoff from the glaciers will start to plummet circa 2050 with resulting very adverse impacts on agriculture and fresh water supplies.  Making the assumption here that a 2C rise is a bit on the low side it would seem reasonable that this dramatic fall off in water supplies will actually arrive sooner than 2050.  And that the eventual disappearance of Swiss glaciers will occur before 2150. (

Edited to change topic title.
Title: Re: Swiss Alpine Galaciers
Post by: Shared Humanity on October 21, 2013, 03:59:03 PM
The retreating glaciers and thawing alpine permafrost is causing a dramatic increase in rock slides and avalanches. ( ( (

Watch Swiss Alps mountainside disappear ( (
Title: Re: Swiss Alpine Galaciers
Post by: JimD on October 21, 2013, 09:37:58 PM
Holy crap SH!  That is awesome.

On the last one it completely dammed up the stream at the bottom.  If they don't dig it out (pretty hard to do that) it will form a lake and eventually overflow and potentially cause some kind of flood in the future.
Title: Re: Swiss Alpine Galaciers
Post by: JimD on December 17, 2013, 04:40:25 PM
Climate Progress article on warming in the Alps and impact on glaciers.

Alps Warming At Double The Average Global Rate, New Study Confirms....Brunot said that at lower lying elevations under 1,000 meters there’s been around 40 percent less snow over the last 50 years.... (
Title: Re: Alpine Galaciers
Post by: Shared Humanity on December 17, 2013, 05:15:10 PM
The hills are alive with the sound of rock slides......

Swiss Alps mountainside disappear 300,000 cubic meters of rock to slide down a mountainside (
Title: Re: Alpine Galaciers
Post by: nukefix on June 01, 2014, 05:09:57 PM
Global Land Ice Measurement from Space is a great resource on glaciers globally: (
Title: NZ's Glaciers
Post by: Clare on July 29, 2014, 09:34:08 PM
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: cats on August 16, 2014, 12:52:37 AM
Thought others might find this interesting - (
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: Tor Bejnar on August 18, 2014, 12:51:41 AM
That 'The hills are alive with the sound of rock slides......' post (several posts back) happened in 2012: (
I just noticed that December 17, 2013 post yesterday! :P
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: solartim27 on September 23, 2014, 05:48:47 PM
x post from CA Drought:
Drought causes mudslide from Mt Shasta glacier (
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: BenB on June 22, 2016, 12:35:06 PM
The figures are out for length changes of Alpine glaciers in 2015: (


92 retreated, 4 advanced and 3 were stationary.

Unterer Grindelwald lost another 450 metres, which means that it has lost a few kilometres in the past few years. Many smaller glaciers also lost significant proportions of their length, but the main story is that almost all of the glaciers monitored are retreating, year after year after year.

For reference, here are the summaries for past years:

2014: Retreating 85, advancing 5, stationary 4
2013: Retreating 70, advancing 12, stationary 6
2012: Retreating 95, advancing 1, stationary 2
2011: Retreating 96, advancing 1, stationary 2
2010: Retreating 88, advancing 3, stationary 5

Note: total numbers of glaciers vary because not quite all glaciers are measured each year. The pattern of far more glaciers retreating than advancing goes back many decades, although it has been particularly strong in the last 20 years.
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: skanky on September 06, 2016, 12:11:45 PM
More than 400 pieces of Alpine ice have been moved to a giant freezer - a first step in their journey to Antarctica.

The seemingly strange plan to send ice to the coldest place on Earth is part of a scientific mission to "rescue" some of the world's most endangered glacial ice.

Bubbles in old, deep glacial ice are frozen records of our past atmosphere.
Scientists say their purpose-built Antarctic ice bunker will keep these safe for future research.

"What we know for sure is that the ice will not be here in 50 or 100 years time - any glacier below 3,500m altitude will be gone by the end of the century," explained Jerome Chappellaz from France's National Centre for Scientific Research, one of the leaders of the project.

"[In the Alps], we're trying to recover ice cores from one of the glaciers that is in danger."
That glacier is at Col du Dome - just below the peak of Mont Blanc. It is one of two that the team has chosen to provide their frozen library with "reference ice" for regions where information on past climate and atmosphere is lacking.

More: (
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: Hefaistos on May 02, 2017, 07:23:26 PM
Desperation in the Alps, the snow season has 40 fewer days now, than in the 1970's. Ski resorts at both low and high altitudes saw snow arrive, on average, 12 days later and disappear 25 days earlier in 2015 than in 1970.
So, get the snow cannons out, let's increase the albedo a bit to save a few meters of glacier.
Don't know if the project's calculations are over-optimistic, "...calculations suggest that 4,000 snow machines running each year could grow the Morteratsch glacier by 800 meters within 20 years. The artificial-snow covering required at any given time is modest: a few centimeters thick and covering an area of about 0.5 sq. km at any given time. As the glacier thickens, the machines move to another patch of the glacier and start pumping out snow again."
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: bluesky on April 21, 2018, 09:29:35 PM
A not well publicised but interesting paper on the Causes of Glaciers Melt Extremes (E. Thibert et al.) was issued in January 2018

"Recent record‐breaking glacier melt values are attributable to peculiar extreme events and long‐term warming trends that shift averages upward. Analyzing one of the world's longest mass balance series with extreme value statistics, we show that detrending melt anomalies makes it possible to disentangle these effects, leading to a fairer evaluation of the return period of melt extreme values such as 2003, and to characterize them by a more realistic bounded behavior. Using surface energy balance simulations, we show that three independent drivers control melt: global radiation, latent heat, and the amount of snow at the beginning of the melting season. Extremes are governed by large deviations in global radiation combined with sensible heat. Long‐term trends are driven by the lengthening of melt duration due to earlier and longer‐lasting melting of ice along with melt intensification caused by trends in long‐wave irradiance and latent heat due to higher air moisture. "
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: bluesky on April 21, 2018, 09:43:10 PM
Discussion and Conclusions of the same research paper:

"The top seven melt extremes have systematically occurred under high global radiation, with large turbulent heat fluxes taking part in the 2000s extremes (Figure 4a). Except for 1986, 1989, and 1990, which belong to low turbulent fluxes conditions of Cluster#2 and are explained by very high global radiation alone, melt extremes are related to uncommon high turbulent fluxes in association with strong global radiation (Cluster#3). Most melt extremes are associated with low winter accumulation, except 2003 and 2004 (Figure 4b). Long‐wave irradiance is not associated with extreme melt, except to some extent in 2003. This extreme summer melt, which is well simulated (0.13 mwe of model‐data discrepancy), is physically explained by the combination of the highest energy fluxes in long‐wave irradiance and sensible and latent heat over seven decades. The 2003 simulated SEB (Surface Energy Balance) has a deviation of +62 W m−2 from the seven‐decade average. This deviation comes from large deviations in latent heat (+17 W m−2), long‐wave irradiance (+15 W m−2), global radiation (+14 W m−2), and sensible heat (+11 W m−2). Deviations in sensible heat and long‐wave are linked to the +2.5°C temperature anomaly observed over the 2003 melting season. The deviation in global radiation is related to the low 2003 summer cloudiness (8% below average). The change in turbulent latent heat flux was due to much lower snow and ice sublimation conditions on this specific summer. Those conditions were slightly reversed into atmospheric moisture condensation conditions (positive latent heat, Figure S11c), providing additional heat for melt at the glacier surface. The 2003s melt extreme was nevertheless limited by the winter balance (Figure 4b; in the range of the seven‐decade average) that provided a significant amount of snow at the beginning of the season, thereby reducing melt by negative feedback from the albedo.
Summing up, our present results demonstrate that glacier melt follows extreme value statistics if nonstationarity is accounted for, detrending raw observations from two‐decade long‐term trends in averages that shift distributions. Around this long‐term trend, extreme melt anomalies are distributed along an upper‐bounded Weibull‐type extreme value statistic law. The mean seasonal energy fluxes associated with these melt intensities are reconstructed from a SEB model. Melt deviations and extremes are controlled by three independent drivers: (1) the winter balance determining the amount of snow at the beginning of the melting season, (2) the global (short‐wave) radiation giving rise to the largest melt deviations and required for melt extreme occurrences, and (3) the latent heat flux that is controlled by air moisture. Sensible heat is involved in extremes but is a flux connected to latent heat (through wind speed) and global radiation (through air temperature). The long‐wave irradiance, varying only slightly and systematically anticorrelated with the net short‐wave balances, is not involved in melt extremes.
In light of Thibert et al. (2013), nonstationarity is explained mostly by the lengthening of the ablation season observed since the mid‐1980s and also by snow and ice melt intensification in the core of the melting seasons. Regarding the longer ablation seasons, positive feedback from the albedo change due to longer ice versus snow ablation is the main factor. Altitude lowering of the glacier surface accounts here for less than 16% (Thibert et al., 2013) of the trend, but some potential changes in ice albedo cannot be ruled out (Oerlemans et al., 2009). A remarkable finding is that the long‐term melt intensification is mainly driven by the latent heat flux increase (+17 W m−2) due to higher air moisture and less snow/ice sublimation, tending to cancel this systematic sink of energy in the SEB. The long‐wave irradiance rise (+5 W m−2) is the second factor in melt intensification. It is related to a larger forcing of +3.6 W m−2 per decade as assessed by SAFRAN data and consistent with the +2.5 W m−2 per decade reported at global scale for the 1990s and 2000s by Ohmura (2012) (Text S9). We expect the long‐term trend in melt attributable to the drift in latent heat and long‐wave fluxes to continue due to the projected rises in air moisture, greenhouse gases, and higher air temperatures. Projected earlier snowmelt (Musselman et al., 2017), as already reported for seasonal snow cover (Durand, Giraud, et al., 2009), and snow over the glacier accumulation area (Thibert et al., 2013) associated with the lengthening of the ablation season in autumn may increase the ice melt duration and enhance melt from albedo positive feedback. Under increased atmospheric water vapor (Santer et al., 2007), despite more‐or‐less unchanged relative humidity (Ingram, 2002), snow/ice sublimation together with the associated energy sink of latent heat will be much more limited, providing more energy for melt in the energy balance. More frequent record breaking of glacier melt values should be expected from these upward shifts in SEB averages. Whether future record breakings constitute extreme deviations from averages could be inferred analyzing trends and carrying out GEV analyses. Moreover, potential changes in melt extreme properties cannot be ruled out as already established for temperatures (Schär et al., 2004). For this, a peak over threshold model (Katz et al., 2002) should be tested in place of the GEV approach which supposes steady state for extremes.

Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: ReverendMilkbone on July 08, 2018, 07:48:05 PM
Google Earth Engine images of Alps Glaciers

Pasterze Glacier,12.7274,11.718,latLng&t=3.24

Rhone Glacier on right, two smaller ones on left,8.2857,10.61,latLng&t=1.82
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: Stephan on August 24, 2018, 07:36:13 PM
Here is a link to of the Kleinfleißkees, Austria. You can switch from year to year from 2014 to 2018 to see the changes.
The Goldbergkees, Austria is decreasing quite fast from 2016 to 2018:
The famous Pasterze is also melting. Use the year-to-year button to see it grow (backwards) or shrink (forward):
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: bluesky on November 04, 2018, 11:32:41 PM
According to "Parc National des Ecrins" website, "glacier Blanc" the largest glacier of the Southern French Alps, going down on the North slope of the "Barre des Ecrins" (4100 m), has had another difficult summer, with a loss of 1.34m of water equivalent from the latest SMB measurement in mid October. Despite very high amount snow fall during 2017/18 winter, (mainly below 3000m, while above it was closer to normal level), the near record hot summer more than offset the winter accumulation with a total melting of 2.91m of water equivalent, second worst year after 2003 (3.51m) and more than 2015 (-2.79m) and 2017 (-2.70m). Overall the glacier has lost close to 13 meters of water equivalent since 2002.

The glacier front experienced a record retreat (-137 meters),  however this is partly due to specific glacier configuration, on average the glacier has been retreating by 45 meters a year over the past 10 years.

First picture: the striking difference of the glacier between 1995 and 2018

Second: chart of surfalce mass balance since 2000

Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: vox_mundi on November 06, 2018, 07:05:33 PM
Julien Seguinot et al. Modelling last glacial cycle ice dynamics in the Alps (, The Cryosphere (2018)


An international research team used a computer model to reconstruct the history of glaciation in the Alps, visualising it in a two-minute computer animation. The simulation aims to enable a better understanding of the mechanisms of glaciation.

The scientists conducted simulations with three different sets of paleo-climate data, as well as two different precipitation scenarios. Only one of the climate data sets delivered results that match the geological evidence left behind by the glaciers in rock and sediment. The results of this simulation indicate that Alpine glaciers advanced and retreated more often than previously thought. For a long time, glaciologists assumed a minimum of four glaciations. Since the 1980s, however, this low figure has often been called into question. The new simulation appears to support the theory of more frequent glaciations, showing that some Alpine glaciers may have advanced and retreated more than 10 times during the last 120,000 years.

Using a detailed analysis of another simulation that charts the glaciation of the last 120,000 years down to the kilometre, the researchers conclude that during peak glaciation, the ice may have been much thicker than previously thought: in the upper Rhône Valley, for example, it may have been up to 800 metres thicker.

Advance and retreat of the Alpine glaciers during the last glacial cycle. Credit: Julien Seguinot
Title: Re: Alpine Glaciers
Post by: wdmn on March 26, 2019, 04:15:46 PM
Alpine glaciers: Another decade of loss

Preliminary data reported from the reference glaciers of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in 2018 from Argentina, Austria, China, France, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Norway, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and United States indicate that 2018 will be the 30th consecutive year of significant negative annual balance (> -200mm); with a mean balance of -1247 mm for the 25 reporting reference glaciers, with only one glacier reporting a positive mass balance (WGMS, 2018).