„Germany has only four glaciers left after hot summer“. „ Alpine glaciers melting at record pace”“. „ Swiss glaciers lose 6% of their total mass in one year..“ The list of media releases, reams of studies and research results gets longer, longer and longer. Year after year, new superlatives are added, summer after summer, something happens that, next to the big problem child CO2, is rather less in the focus of public perception: the irreversible melting of glaciers due to climate change.
The summer of 2022, a sad record year for the glacier ice
It is the beginning of July 2022, a hot summer’s day in the Swiss Alps, more precisely in the second hottest summer since 1984. In June of this year, it was already well over 30 degrees in many places, the zero degree limit is often above 4000 meters, sometimes even at 4500 meters. Switzerland’s highest mountain, the Dufourspitze, only manages a good 100 meters more in altitude.
The summer of 2022 will go down in history as the worst summer ever for the glaciers in the Alps. Whether in the Engadine, in the Bernese Oberland, in the Valais, in the glaciated regions of Austria, Italy or around the puny remnants of Germany’s now only four “glaciers”: everywhere the ice melt has reached speeds and dimensions that have surprised even experienced researchers. The average thickness of ice loss on Swiss glaciers in 2022 alone is three meters, and some glaciers in Valais or Engadin have lost up to six meters of thickness in one summer.
In this article we would like to create a space for the glaciers of the Alps, through facts but also with pictures, to leave the impression they deserve. Our journey takes us from the Morteratsch glacier in the Engadine to the Glacier de Cheilon in the Valais to a now collapsed glacier cave near Arolla. But also the glaciers of Northern Europe will get their space, until we will finally deal with the big questions around glaciers in climate change.