Saturday, 9 April 2011

Austria's vanishing glaciers

In the Austrian Alps glaciers are shrinking at a dramatic rate. In the last 12 months the Austrian glaciers have retreated by an average of 14.1 meters. The greatest glacier loss during the period was at Wasserfallwinkelkees in the Glockner Alps where the glacier retreated by 71.7 meters.

At Sulzenau Ferner in the Stubai Alps the glacier is now 276.7 meters shorter than it was 29 years ago.

A survey of Austria's Pasterze Glacier undertaken by the Alpenverein from 1852 to 2004 reveals a dramatic situation. In each of the years listed here the glacier retreated by 20 to 40 meters:

1906 - 20 mtrs+
1908 - 30 mtrs+
1947 - 20 mtrs+
1958 - 20 mtrs+
1962 - 30 mtrs+
1971 - 30 mtrs+
1972 - 20 mtrs+
1973 - 30 mtrs+
1981 - 20 mtrs+
1986 - 20 mtrs+
1988 - 30 mtrs+
1992 - 30 mtrs+
1999 - 20 mtrs+
2000 - 30 mtrs+
2003 - 30 mtrs+

By 2004 the glacier's average thickness or depth was 275mtrs less than in 1852, its length 1.8kms less, and the width also greatly reduced.

You can see from the above statistics that it is from 1947 onwards that the periods of major glacier loss suddenly become more frequent. In other parts of the world, such as the Himalayas and the Andes, the situation is even more dramatic.


  1. Well this is sad and scary. (I guess that's why I watch horror movies every now and again... they give me something to laugh at.)

  2. Mike, We're building the ski resorts higher and higher; I guess that'll solve the problem.

  3. This quite sad. Glaciers are big blocks of ice yet they are melting quickly. It only implies that the earth is getting hot because of global warming.

  4. In Austria at least, and I suppose it's typical, we're heading down the big dipper when it comes to glaciers - our diminishing fresh water reserves they are.


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