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Alpine glaciers to disappear within decades?


Zemp, M; Haeberli, W; Hoelzle, M; Paul, F (2006). Alpine glaciers to disappear within decades? Geophysical Research Letters, 33:L13504.

Abstract

Past, present and potential future glacier cover in the entire European Alps has been assessed from an integrated approach, combining in-situ measurements, remote sensing techniques and numerical modeling for equilibrium line altitudes. Alpine glaciers lost 35% of their total area from 1850 until the 1970s, and almost 50% by 2000. Total glacier volume around 1850 is estimated at some 200 km3 and is now close to one-third of this value. From the model experiment, we show that a 3°C warming of summer air temperature would reduce the currently existing Alpine glacier cover by some 80%, or up to 10% of the glacier extent of 1850. In the event of a 5°C temperature increase, the Alps would become almost completely ice-free. Annual precipitation changes of ±20% would modify such estimated percentages of remaining ice by a factor of less than two.

Past, present and potential future glacier cover in the entire European Alps has been assessed from an integrated approach, combining in-situ measurements, remote sensing techniques and numerical modeling for equilibrium line altitudes. Alpine glaciers lost 35% of their total area from 1850 until the 1970s, and almost 50% by 2000. Total glacier volume around 1850 is estimated at some 200 km3 and is now close to one-third of this value. From the model experiment, we show that a 3°C warming of summer air temperature would reduce the currently existing Alpine glacier cover by some 80%, or up to 10% of the glacier extent of 1850. In the event of a 5°C temperature increase, the Alps would become almost completely ice-free. Annual precipitation changes of ±20% would modify such estimated percentages of remaining ice by a factor of less than two.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
Dewey Decimal Classification:910 Geography & travel
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:09 Jul 2010 15:41
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 14:09
Publisher:American Geophysical Union
ISSN:0094-8276
Publisher DOI:10.1029/2006GL026319
Permanent URL: http://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-34259

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