Alien world under Austria's doomed glaciers tells tale of their collapse


Glaciologist Andrea Fischer, from the Austrian Academy of Sciences, stands at the entrance of a natural glacier cavity of the Jamtalferner glacier near Galtuer, Austria, October 15, 2021. Giant ice caves have appeared in glaciers accelerating the melting process faster than expected as warmer air rushes through the ice mass until it collapses. Picture taken October 15, 2021. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

JAMTALFERNER GLACIER, Austria (Reuters) - Scientists are venturing inside otherworldly ice caves growing beneath Austria's doomed glaciers to study why they are melting even faster than expected, and understand the fate that will befall glaciers elsewhere if climate change is not halted.

It is already too late to save the glaciers of the eastern Alps, which scientists now say are past the point of no return and will be gone completely in the next few decades.

The eerie blue caverns beneath them hold clues as to how the ice -- which built up over millennia and melted over decades -- collapsed far faster than expected. That could help communities that depend on glaciers in other parts of the world to better manage their decline.

"We can't do anything anymore for eastern Alpine glaciers. But here we can see what happens if we do nothing for the other glaciers," said Andrea Fischer, who brought a photographer into the caverns beneath the Jamtalferner glacier in the Tyrolean Alps, towering above the Austrian border with Switzerland.

The Jamtalferner is among Austria's 30 largest glaciers and one of 10 where scientists take very precise measurements annually, documenting the now irreversible decline.

The hollows are eroding the glaciers from within, as warmer air and meltwater come into contact with ever more of the ice, until it collapses.

"These holes are a typical sign of collapse that we observe. It is also a reason it happens so quickly - the ice is completely eroded and this process is not visible from the surface, then suddenly it all implodes," Fischer, acting director of the Austrian Academy of Sciences' Institute of Interdisciplinary Mountain Research, told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Francois Murphy; Writing by Francois Murphy; Editing by Peter Graff)

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 46
Cxense type: free
User access status: 3
Join our Telegram channel to get our Evening Alerts and breaking news highlights
   

Next In World

U.S. Senate backs sale of missiles to Saudi Arabia
U.S. Senate backs $650 million missile sale to Saudi Arabia
France's Martinique territory imposes new curfew as COVID infections surge
Peru's Castillo braces for impeachment vote as protests brew
Instagram launches tool urging teens to take a break
Honduras begins election vote recount after fraud claims
Gunmen torch bus, kill 30 passengers in Nigeria's Sokoto state
'Love is love:' Chile legalizes same-sex marriage in historic vote
Re-elected Gambian President Barrow promises new constitution, term limits
Exclusive-Up to 1 million COVID vaccines wasted in Nigeria last month

Others Also Read


Vouchers