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Swiss glaciers continue to melt despite better year

Published on October 19, 2021

Swiss glaciers this year recorded their lowest ice loss since 2013, but still lost 1% of their volume due to climate change, according to the Swiss Academy of Sciences.

This is despite abundant snow in the winter and a relatively cool summer in 2021, the academy’s Cryospheric Commission said on Tuesday.

While the retreat of Swiss glaciers over the last three decades has been “immense”, the conditions were right in 2021 to give the glaciers a breather, it continued. “Unfortunately, in times of climate change, even a ‘good’ year is not good enough for the glaciers. The loss of ice continued, albeit at a slower pace.”

Measurements by Swiss glacier monitoring network GLAMOS documented ice loss on all 22 glaciers measured. Although the losses were smaller than in recent years, no gains were recorded for any of the glaciers. It can be assumed that this applies to the vast majority of Swiss glaciers, although there may be a few exceptions at special locations like small glaciers with a lot of avalanche snow, head of GLAMOS Matthias Huss told Swiss news agency Keystone-SDA.

Glaciers in the northern Valais (southwest Switzerland) came closest to equilibrium, he said. Glaciers in southern Valais, in Ticino and in the east, however, suffered almost the same losses as the average of the last ten years.