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Scientists pinpoint ice loss in glaciers

Zurich researchers have calculated that Swiss glaciers contain the equivalent of around two thirds of the water in Lake Geneva.

This content was published on June 22, 2009 - 12:06

But they also found that glaciers in the country have lost 12 per cent of their volume over the last decade.

Until now, researchers have been able to estimate only roughly how much ice is stored in Swiss glaciers and how this has changed over the years, said Martin Funk, head of the glaciology department at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich.

Researchers have now developed a more accurate procedure based on mass-conservation and the principles of ice-flow dynamics.

This new method is detailed in the current edition of the "Global and Planetary Change" academic journal.

"The calculation of the current ice volume is the most important indicator for making predictions about future changes to glaciers," said Funk in a federal institute statement on Monday.

The last decade, considered the warmest in 150 years, saw Swiss glaciers loose nine cubic kilometres of ice, or 12 per cent against 1999 levels. The study found that glaciers back then held 74 cubic km of ice.

Lake Geneva currently has a water volume of 89 cubic km.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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