Wednesday, October 5, 2011

French Alps Losing Their Glaciers

Photo courtesy: Heather Cowper/CC BY 2.0

The French Alps were once the destination of the rich and famous; the beautiful people; and, those wishing to be seen. That may soon change. Climate change seems to be wreaking havoc with their once glorious glacial scenery.

Himalayan glaciers often get most of the media attention, in regards to the rate at which they are melting as our climate changes, but new research presented to the American Geophysical Union focuses instead on the French Alps.

According to this research, presented by BBC News, over the past 40 years French glaciers have lost 25% of their area. On Mont Blanc for example, in the early 70s glacier covered 375 sq. km. (145 sq.mi.), but today only covers 275 sq. km. (106 sq. mi.).

That rate of decline is an average however, the research shows. In the southern part of the French Alps glacier loss has been nearly complete, and in the Ecrins Massif the rate of retreat has been three times as great as in the Mont Blanc region.

As for the differences in retreat, obvious differences in altitude of the mountains, as well as differences in weather conditions and precipitation between region.

Despite (largely manufactured) controversy about how quickly glaciers are retreating around the world's mountain regions at large, due to less-that-ideal sourcing in the last IPCC report, the US Geological Survey has concluded that the world's glaciers are in retreat and climate change is to blame.

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