As in the last decade, the retreat of glaciers continued massively during the summer of 2020. However, the melting is less dramatic than between 2017 and 2019, according to the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT).
The decline remains massive, however, and changes the image of the Alps, SCNAT said in a statement on Friday. The glacial margins retreat and small mountain lakes are created.
Differences are to be noted between the low-altitude flat glaciers and the high-altitude glaciers of southern Valais, Ticino and the Engadine. At high altitudes, there was a lot of snow in early winter and snowfall in summer, according to SCNAT.
The former, like that of Tsanfleuron (VS), recorded an average reduction in ice thickness of 2 meters. The latter, like the Findelen Glacier (VS) or the Basòdino Glacier (TI), have only lost about 0.5 meters in thickness.
Rain below 1000 meters
In November 2019, snowfall arrived in the mountains about two weeks earlier than normal, according to SCNAT. New maximums of fresh snow were even recorded on the southern side of the Alps in November. But the winter then having been too mild, most of the precipitation below 1000 meters fell throughout the winter in the form of rain.
In May, there was snow on the glaciers, which is the average of the last ten years, writes SCNAT. However, the snowmelt started early and at high levels. In September, the lowest snow depth recorded since measurements began a century ago was measured at the Aletsch Glacier near the Jungfraujoch.
Snow in August
In June, new snowfall slowed down the snow removal already underway. In August, there was snow twice up to 2000 meters, unlike the last two years.
At the end of September, the snow line on the north side of the Alps sometimes went below 1000 meters. Between twenty and thirty centimeters of fresh snow has been recorded, which is unusual for this time of year.
Equivalent loss at Lake Constance
Almost 2% of the total volume of glaciers has been lost across Switzerland in the past twelve months. Swiss glaciers have lost so much water since 1960 that the volume of water corresponds to that of Lake Constance.
ats / jpr
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