On Sunday, a piece of a glacier broke off at the peak of Marmolada in the Dolomites, killing at least seven people. According to natural ice glaciologists, with further warming of the climate, such events will become more common, reports The Guardian. Marmolada is the only mountain range in the Dolomites, on the slopes of which a large glacier has remained, but most of it has already been lost, and in the next 20-30 years it will completely disappear, experts say.
The immediate cause of the current collapse was the abnormal heat that is now in Italy and melted the ice. In the days before the collapse, the temperature at the summit exceeded 10 ° C - for local conditions, this is extremely high. In addition, the area that broke away was part of a serac, a vertical formation on the leading edge of a glacier that is unstable by definition and becomes even more dangerous in warmer conditions. However, this hot summer was only the last straw: for many years, warm temperatures weakened the glacier, and the ice became more and more brittle.
In the coming years, we will hear more than once about such accidents, the specialist predicts. Paul Christoffersen, a glaciologist at the University of Cambridge, says: “The collapse of the Marmolada Glacier is a natural disaster directly related to climate change. High mountain glaciers like the Marmolada are often steep and require temperatures below 0°C to keep them stable. But climate change means more and more meltwater, which releases heat. It heats the ice if the water refreezes, or worse, it melts the glacier on the rock and causes it to collapse suddenly.”
Melting glaciers affect tourism and mountaineering. Some mountainous areas have already become too inaccessible and dangerous, and climbers must understand that they are risking their lives.