Climate Dynamics, December 7
90% of the glaciers in the European Alps would completely disappear before 2100 under high emissions scenarios, while keeping global temperatures below 2°C would preserve at least 30% of these glaciers. With current emissions however, the Alps could see their mean annual summer temperature increase by up to 7°C by 2100 (like the Arctic, temperatures in high alpine areas have been increasing by about twice the global mean). This temperature rise in the Alps slowly raises the “freeze line” and the altitude where annual net gains from snowfall do not offset net loss from melting. Once this rises above a glacier’s highest point, the glacier becomes unviable and will inevitably disappear entirely. Rapid loss of Alpine glaciers will have profound socio-economic implications for the region: reducing the availability of hydro-electric power; and decreasing the quantity and quality of water resources. Decreases in snow in connection with this temperature rise can also be expected to close many of the region’s famous ski areas, threatening the livelihoods of many.
Compiled by Amy Imdieke