The detachment of a part of the Marmolada glacier, in the Dolomites (Italian Alps) which has caused the death of 7 climbers and 13 missing, is an “unforeseeable event” but due to climate change it will inevitably be more frequent, he explains to EFE the glaciology expert and director of the Institute of Polar Sciences of the Italian National Research Council (CNR), Carlo Barbante.
After the detachment, a huge crater can be seen in the mountain and a trail of tons of ice and stones under which it will be very difficult to recover the disappearedbut tragedies like this will be repeated in the future, because “with climate change and rising temperatures for decades, it is clear that episodes like these are possible,” explains Barbante.
“These are events that have always occurred in glaciers, but have accelerated in recent times due to global warming. Glaciers melt like this, not drop by dropand these episodes will always be more frequent with these high temperatures”, he warns.
What happened this Sunday in the Dolomites “was not perhaps predictable”adds this expert, but points out that it was necessary to note “that the situation in recent weeks was really alarming, with continued temperature increases.”
“In recent days the thermal zero was above 4,000 meters and this has caused large amounts of water to have filtered into the glacier and lubricated the part between the rock and the ice, causing a huge mass of water that has put pressure and caused the collapse of 350,000 cubic meters of ice“, Explain.
The also university professor, who has been dealing for years with climatic and environmental reconstructions and with the development of innovative analytical methodologies in the environmental and biological fields, points out that “all the glaciers in the Alps are in retreat, in great danger, suffering the change climate, some more than others because they are at a lower altitude.
He assures that this is something that will happen again: “For the next thirty years at least, we have already mortgaged our future. Climate change tells us that for the next thirty years any option we take will no longer workand the alpine glaciers are already lost and will continue to melt and lose mass”.
According to studies carried out by the Italian CNR, alpine glaciers below 3,600 meters will disappear completely, adds Barbante, who explains that the Marmolada glacier was estimated to take 30 years to disappearbut with the speed with which it is melting it is believed that it will be in much less time.
In his opinion, the loss of glaciers is of vital importance, because “they are the largest source of fresh drinking water for our planet and an invaluable resource in some places, such as Bolivia or India, where the population lives on this water resource. “.
In the case of the Alps, the water supply is less important because Italy depends more on the aquiferous skirts“but sometimes they are decisive in times of drought” like the one the country is currently experiencing.
But in addition, he highlights, glaciers are “an invaluable memory” because “they give very important information about how the climate changed in the past and about the events that we can expect in the future, and losing them is a very important resource from the point of view of study and research”.
To avoid these tragedies, Barbante explains that it would be necessary to introduce the avalanche and danger warning system that exists in the mountains during the winter months also in summer. (YO)