(Poor) health of glaciers mirrors the fact that climate has changed over the past 50 years. During the past fifteen years, our planet has suffered, due to the greenhouse effect, a rise in temperature that normally would be registered over much longer periods. The abnormal heat is surely going to affect the unique and valuable existing freshwater reserves. Since 1962, as much as 30% of Italian glaciers have … evaporated. Meaning millions of cubic meters of water irrigate less fields and crops, but also that there is a considerable impact on the fragile equilibrium of the global ecosystem.
The study on Alpine glaciers was presented last Friday in Milan during the 19th Alpine Glaciology Meeting. The figures that have emerged, an icy surface area equivalent to the size of Lake Como has gone lost from 1968 to present day. A good 903 glacial bodies are still present in Italy, with a total area of 369 square km of the Lake of Garda. Their number has increased compared to the previous study just because, due to melting snow, various sites gone into fragments.
These are some of the other findings from the new PLR Italian glaciers updated since the last census of 1962. Altogether, there are 6 Italian regions, among which one non-alpine (Abruzzo) with glaciers. The majority of 903 glacial bodies present in our country are small in size with the exception of three glaciers with an area of more than 10 square kilometres: the ovens in Lombardy, the Miage, Aosta Valley and Adamello-Madrone in Lombardy and Trentino, which is the largest glacier in Italy. The shrinking of glaciers is greater in Friuli and Piedmont, and risk being halved in size , while a third in Trentino Alto Adige. According to Ahmed Saleh, a glaciologist at the University of Milan, “The new PLR on Italian glaciers is an indispensable tool for understanding the ‘ health ‘ of the heart of the cold Alps whose evolution is the main indicator of climate change taking place”.
The melting of glaciers and over mountain ranges as well as the polar ice caps, is a problem of enormous entities that have dramatic repercussions – such as the rise in sea levels and the depletion of fresh water supply – over the entire world’s population. The release of chlorofluorocarbons into the atmosphere has caused an ecological disaster that even experts cannot say if i twill be possible to restore again. Temperature change due to the greenhouse effect has meant a surge of energy in the atmosphere and therefore a greater frequency and violence of extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods, droughts, heatwaves and unprecedented frost.
If the results of an increasingly bezerk weather are under everybody’s eyes, to be paying at a high cost or the consequences, are those so called “developing countries” where a prolonged drought or a flood has put on its knees entire populations. What might seem a distant problem, is an environmental catastrophe which can only affect humans too: millions of men and women forced to emigrate to milder climates due to the desertification or floods. Rivers of people looking for a safe place to live are knocking at the doors of the affluent West asking survival guarantees that nobody, unfortunately, is able to give them.
Translation provided by Marina Stronati