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Global warming is changing the Alps

Global warming ‘is causing the Alps to CRUMBLE’: Huge rock fall in Austria is latest sign of climate change’s effects on the mountain range – with SKI RESORTS at risk, Daily Mail, Temperature is rising twice as fast in the Alps than the global average.

  • Experts say 70 per cent of snow coverage in Switzerland will be gone by 2100
  • The permafrost in the Alps is melting, causing avalanches and landslides
  • This causes mountains crumbling, homes destroyed and water contamination

    By Koen Berghuis and Sara Malm for MailOnline, 18 August 2017   

    Global warming is causing the Alps to literally fall apart, as the rise in temperature is melting snow caps on the mountains, experts warn.

    The Alps’ permafrost – soil, sediment, or rock that stays frozen for at least two years – is thawing rapidly, causing rock avalanches and floods.

    This weekend, Salzburg’s St Johann im Pongau district in Austria was hit by a large rock slide, blocking a major road with clearing and reparation works expected to last at least three weeks.

    Climate experts say that the ski season in the Alps will be significantly shorter in the future, with 70 per cent of the current snow cover in Switzerland gone by the end of the century.

    In the summer months, the Alpine nations can expect mountains crumbling, destruction of infrastructure and even drinking water becoming contaminated by the melting permafrost. Scientists say that the temperature in the Alps has risen by 1.5 degrees Celsius over the last century, double the worldwide average.

    Prof. Dr Karl Krainer, a geologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, explained: ‘Permafrost is the glue that holds the mountains together above 2,500 metres.’

    ‘Obviously with increased global warming, the level at which permafrost is found is also rising. In the summer months when the permafrost is melting, this is when there is a risk of rockfalls and landslides.’

    Dr Marcia Phillips, the group leader for permafrost and snow climatology at the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research (SLF) in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos, warned: ‘The consequences are already visible today.’

    Dr Phillips said: ‘The Alps are changing.’

    The Swiss scientists have been monitoring the permafrost at 30 drilling spots since the 1980s. And while they say that for a long time the influence of climate change on the Alpine permafrost was unclear, the consequences are now visible.

    Dr Phillips warned that local people can already see rock walls breaking off, unstable ridges, skidding slopes and even cracked buildings.

    Already cable cars and other mountain infrastructure across Austria and Switzerland have had to be secured in expensive operations.

    State commissioner Hans Mayr, who oversees the Salzburg road network, said that in the future more serious storms are likely to hit the Alps.

    Mr Mayr said: ‘As in the case of flood protection, events that we would expect to happen every 10 or 100 years have to be re-evaluated. Today the rain is much more intense than 20 or 30 years ago.’…….


August 18, 2017 - Posted by | climate change, EUROPE

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