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Climate change

Glaciers melting at record rate

Glaciers worldwide are melting at a faster rate than ever before, according to a comprehensive study published by the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich.

Researchers studying data from more than 30 countries found that in the first decade of this century, glaciers had melted two to three times as fast as the average recorded during the 20th century, according to the study published on Monday in the Journal of Glaciology.

“The observed glaciers currently lose between half a metre and one metre of ice thickness every year," said Michael Zemp, director of the service,

“Exact measurements of this ice loss are reported from a few hundred glaciers only. However, these results are qualitatively confirmed from field and satellite-based observations for tens of thousands of glaciers around the world."

Zemp emphasised that continued melting should be expected. “In the future glaciers will continue to melt even if temperatures remain stable."

The study’s New Zealand correspondent, Brian Anderson, said that while glaciers may advance again following snowfalls, “given the fact that the Earth is warming, it's unlikely they will reach their 20th-century maxima again”.

The study looked at data collected over more than 120 years on glacier changes. The Swiss-based monitoring service works with national correspondents around the world to compile data from glacier observations.

Last week, the Plaine Morte glacial lake, located on the border of the cantons of Bern and Valais, reached record levels due to glacial melt, prompting concerns of potential overflowing.

swissinfo.ch and agencies


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