Marmolada collapse, WWF: “Glaciers below 3,500 meters destined to disappear in 30 years”

“A tragedy more than announced and therefore even more serious and painful”

“With the average temperatures of recent years, glaciers below 3,500 meters are destined to disappear within 20-30 years.” This is the scenario that WWF outlines in the aftermath of the avalanche on the Marmolada: the collapse of a serac caused at least 8 victims.

“Nobody could know when and where, but yesterday’s tragedy on the Marmolada glacier is a tragedy more than announced and therefore even more serious and painful. What happened corresponds to the scenarios and warnings that climatologists and glaciologists have been spreading for years, in particular through the reports of the IPCC, the United Nations scientific panel on climate change and even with a special report on ‘Seas and cryosphere in a changing climate’ of 2019. After all, there have been several tragedies for the so-called glacier hazards even in the European Alps in recent years, all of which are soon forgotten “.

In recent decades, Alpine glaciers have been in strong retreat – reconstructs the WWF – the latest Catasto of Italian glaciers shows that the surface of Italian glaciers has gone from 519 km2 in 1962 (Cadastre Cgi-Cnr), to 609 km2 in 1989 (cadastre World Glacier Inventory, with data collected in the 70s-80s), to the current 368 km2, equal to 40% less than the last land register. At the same time, the number of glaciers has grown: 903, compared to 824 in 1962 and 1,381 in 1989, but the increase compared to 1962 is another danger signal because it is due to the intense fragmentation that has reduced complex glacial systems to single glaciers more little ones. In the last 150 years some glaciers have lost more than two kilometers in length, but their thickness is also reduced, which in a single summer can thin up by up to 6 meters.

“With the average temperatures of recent years, glaciers below 3,500 meters are destined to disappear within 20-30 years. If temperatures continue to rise, eternal ice from the Eastern and Central Alps could shrink within a few decades. drastically or disappear. They would remain only in the Western Alps, the highest ones. Furthermore, the glaciers are getting darker, and therefore more vulnerable to solar radiation “, continues WWF.

As the WWF has been denouncing for years, “the consequences are devastating, not only for the environment and the mountain landscape, for communities and economic activities, from tourism to energy. We already wrote years ago that summer outflows from rivers derive from most from glacial melting. As the glaciers disappear, their contribution to the Alpine streams and rivers of the Po Valley, including the Po, also vanishes with significant consequences on the water supply for the population and for economic activities, starting with agriculture and hydroelectric and thermoelectric production (we wrote this before the current, very serious drought). The risk of so-called glacier hazards also increases, i.e. the risks linked to the direct action of ice and / or snow and could lead to avalanches of ice and catastrophic floods due to the flooding of glacial lakes, such as the one that occurred in the summer of 2019 due to the collapse of the Zermatt glacier in Switzerland “.

“The data and analyzes have therefore been available for some time: it is the action that is missing. The WWF therefore asks the Government to act both for mitigation (abatement of greenhouse gas emissions) and for adaptation (measures to cope with the damage and impacts already in place). For mitigation, we need a climate law, which makes the climate crisis an essential element of evaluation for all policies. We also need the urgent updating of the National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (Pniec), compiled before updating the European targets and skyrocketing gas prices: today, without further hesitation, we need to press the accelerator on renewable sources and on energy savings and efficiency, with a truly exceptional plan “, warns the association .

The National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change must also be finally launched. We recall that a plan was launched in 2017, subjected to consultation, updated in 2018, submitted to the State Regions Conference and then to Strategic Environmental Assessment: now it seems should be rewritten from the beginning, but no one knows who and at what time he is doing it. On July 8, Minister Cingolani will be in Val d’Aosta: an excellent opportunity for the Minister of Ecological Transition to say what he intends to do to contribute to the fight against global warming and to finally equip Italy with an adaptation plan to those changes that are now inevitable “.