Camp4: Live To Climb Skip over navigation image

Home > News Archive > Global Warming Affects Mountains Near and FarSubmit Your News

Global Warming Affects Mountains Near and Far


by Editor

October 26, 2003

Camp4 - Climbing News Archive

The past summer’s record heat wave in Europe brought significant attention to the impact of global warming on mountains worldwide, while recent research shows climate change is having a mixed impact on glaciers in California.

As mentioned in the August issue of American Alpine Club E-News, more than 70 people had to be evacuated from the Matterhorn after massive rock avalances swept down several of the mountain's faces during a record heat wave. The event could not have been better timed for political impact as it occurred in mid-July on the eve of the International Permafrost Association's quadrennial conference in Zurich, Switzerland. In late August, Mount Blanc was unofficially closed by the Office de Haute Montagne due to high rockfall danger caused by the retreating snowline. Though rockfall is common on the peak, melting permafrost caused ice holding rocky portions of the mountain to shrink, which fueled large rockslides all over the mountain.

Research by Swiss glaciologist Bruno Messerli indicates that in the 130 years leading up to 1980, alpine glaciers lost half of their pre-1850 volume; a further 25 percent of the pre-1850 volume was lost in the 20 years between 1980 and 2000. “There will still be a bit of the 23km [14-mile] Aletsch glacier left at the end of the century, because it is 900m [2,952 feet] deep in places,” Messerli was quoted as saying on the UNESCO website. “But a lot of other areas will disappear.” Ohio State University’s Lonnie Thompson claims that Kilimanjaro has lost 82 percent of its permafrost since 1912—fully 33 percent of this in the past two decades—and will be snow free by 2015 if current predictions are maintained.

Closer to home, the glaciers of California are showing mixed impacts due to climate change. According to a report in the “Los Angeles Times,” several Sierra Nevada glaciers have retreated substantially since early 1990, including the Darwin Glacier near Bishop and the Lyell Glacier in Yosemite National Park. However, all seven of the glaciers on Mount Shasta, including the three-mile-long Whitney, the state’s longest, are actually growing due to increased precipitation. Three of the glaciers have doubled in size since 1950. However, this glacial advance on Mount Shasta may be a temporary phenomenon that reverses once the increased warming overcomes the increased precipitation.

Reprinted from the October American Alpine Club E-News

Send to Friend | Print Page

Comments are closed.


2000-2018 © D4DR Media | | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions | Advertise