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Swiss glaciers show signs of recovery after snowy winter

A group of mountaineers walk roped on the ice of the Swiss Aletsch glacier, the longest glacier in Europe. Keystone-SDA

Swiss glaciers, heavily impacted by climate change, benefited from heavy snowfalls this winter, marking an improvement on the situation in previous years, according to the head of the Swiss glaciological surveys.

“At the summer solstice, the state of Swiss glaciers is better than in recent years,” Matthias Huss, who heads the Swiss Glaciological Survey Network (Glamos), wrote on the social network X this weekend.

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“But will this be enough for a year with ice gain? Most likely not! But losses will be limited,” he wrote, pointing out that a cool summer could also benefit glaciers.

At the beginning of June, Huss had stressed on X that the weather this year had been a “blessing” for Swiss glaciers.

+ Swiss glaciers under threat despite heavy snowfall

In a report published at the end of May, Glamos reported well above-average snow cover on glaciers in all regions of Switzerland, with average snow depths of 3 to 6 meters.

According to Glamos surveys of 14 Swiss glaciers, extrapolated to all 1,400 glaciers in the Alpine country, there was around 31% more snow at the end of April than the average for the years 2010 to 2020.

Swiss glaciers melted as much in 2022 and 2023 as between 1960 and 1990, due to extreme weather conditions exacerbated by climate change. After a record loss of 6% in 2022, they melted by a further 4% in 2023.

Adapted from German by DeepL/jdp.

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