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A Glacier in the Alps Could Collapse at Any Moment Thanks to Climate Change, Experts Warn
Written by <a href="index.php?option=com_comprofiler&task=userProfile&user=51699"><span class="small">N'dea Yancey-Bragg, USA Today</span></a>   
Thursday, 26 September 2019 08:27

Yancey-Bragg writes: "Italian officials are closing roads after experts warned that a massive chunk of a glacier is at risk of collapsing due to climate change."

A segment of the Planpincieux glacier on Wednesday. A block of about nine million cubic feet of ice has splintered and could give way, researchers have found. (photo: Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)
A segment of the Planpincieux glacier on Wednesday. A block of about nine million cubic feet of ice has splintered and could give way, researchers have found. (photo: Flavio Lo Scalzo/Reuters)


A Glacier in the Alps Could Collapse at Any Moment Thanks to Climate Change, Experts Warn

By N'dea Yancey-Bragg, USA Today

26 September 19

 

talian officials are closing roads after experts warned that a massive chunk of a glacier is at risk of collapsing due to climate change.

A staggering 8.8 million cubic feet of ice could break away from the Planpincieux glacier in the Alps, said experts at the Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation), according to a statement from local officials. The glacier is located on the Grande Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif, which straddles the borders of Italy, France and Switzerland and contains the highest peak in Western Europe.

The Safe Mountain Foundation has been studying the glacier's movement since 2013 and has observed "an increase in speed," according to the release. The glacier is shifting at an average peak speed between 19.6 to 23.6 inches per day.

Although the movement is being monitored, there is no way to predict exactly when the collapse could occur nor is there a system in place to activate alarms when it does.

In response to the findings, the Mayor of Courmayeur, Stefano Miserocchi decided to close two roads to Val Ferret and Rochefort and evacuate buildings in the surrounding area.

"Public safety is a priority for the municipal administration," Miserocchi said in a statement. "These phenomena testify once again how the mountain is in a phase of strong change due to climatic factors, therefore it is particularly vulnerable. In this case it is a temperate glacier particularly sensitive to high temperatures."

Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte alerted world leaders to the risk of the glacier’s collapse during his address Tuesday to the United Nations General Assembly in New York, telling them “it is an alarm that we cannot be indifferent to.”

The news comes just after the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report detailing the impact global warming has had on glaciers and ice sheets. Melting glaciers can not only contribute to rising sea levels, but can also pose a threat to humans through landslides, avalanches, rockfalls and floods according to a press release that accompanied the report.

"Glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are declining and will continue to do so," scientists said in the press release. "Smaller glaciers found for example in Europe, eastern Africa, the tropical Andes and Indonesia are projected to lose more than 80% of their current ice mass by 2100 under high emission scenarios."

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