Not before since the beginning of measurements so much ice loss in the Alps

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NOS News
  • Harm Kersten

  • Helen Ecker

    editor Climate and Energy

Never before since the measurements started has so much ice melted in the Alps as last year. This is stated in the annual report of the European climate organization Copernicus: the European State of the Climate. An amount of five cubic kilometers of ice disappeared, due to less snowfall in the winter and the unusually warm summer.

At the beginning of this year, Copernicus already reported that the summer of 2022 was Europe’s warmest summer ever measured. Much of Western Europe was struggling with heat, and the United Kingdom reached 40 degrees for the first time. The high temperatures and lack of precipitation led to extreme droughts and wildfires.

In the new report, Copernicus lists many aspects of climate change as observed in Europe last year. Remarkable: While the glaciers in the Alps lost a lot of ice, there was a small increase in ice in the glaciers in Scandinavia. In southwestern Scandinavia, the glaciers benefited from an average to positive number of snowy days in winter and relatively cooler temperatures in summer.

Glaciers

In the glaciers of the Alps, there was very little snowfall in winter, followed by an unusually warm summer. In Switzerland, for example, this led to an estimated ice loss of six percent of the total ice volume during the year. As of 2001, the total amount of ice from the glaciers here has shrunk from 77 cubic kilometers to 49 cubic kilometers, a decrease of more than a third.

“While global glacier mass loss is significant, the European Alps are one of the regions where glaciers are shrinking the most,” the report states. There is a total of about 130 cubic kilometers of ice in the Alps.

NOS weather presenter and glaciologist Peter Kuipers Munneke: “It was also a really special year. Another 26 of these extreme melt years and all the ice will be gone. It won’t go that fast, but it is in line with the projections that about sixty percent of all glacier ice in the Alps will disappear, even if we meet the climate goals from the Paris climate agreement.”

The European climate in four striking graphs:

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