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World Rivers Day Snapshots of a changing alpine climate

What does global warming look like? Geography student and photographer Merlin Unterfinger has followed river courses of the Swiss Alps to document a changing landscape.

Retreating glaciers leave behind polished stone, waterfalls and small lakes of exquisite beauty. Unterfinger’s striking images tell a story of climate change that began with the last ice age and continues – at a more rapid pace – today.

Swiss researchers at the federal technology institute, ETH Zurich, say that warmer winters leading to more rain instead of snow, even at high altitudes, will mean an increase in flooding in winter months and less water in lowland rivers and lakes in summer. The reason? Water from snow melt in spring that now accounts for 40% of the water flowing through Switzerland’s rivers and lakes will drop to only 25% by 2085.

Unterfinger’s images of rushing alpine streams, and lowland waterways like Lake Zurich and the Aare River flowing through Bern’s historic centre could be very different if taken again a few decades from now. (Photos: Merlin Unterfingerexternal link)

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