Au Revoir, Mer de Glace?
Last week, I posted an item about the disintegration of a large chunk of the Eiger -- a not-so-indirect result of global warming. For more on the melting Alps, see this February 2006 National Geographic article. While the full article is not available online, maps, photos and other resources on the subject are provided. Among the factoids retailed here:
Some 600 ski resorts now dot the Alps, which stretch more than 650 miles (1,000 kilometers) across eight nations. Scientists predict that as the permanent snow line rises along with temperatures, half those resorts could close by 2050. Less ice and snow cover means less runoff to feed Europe's major rivers. And as permafrost melts, some steep slopes—and the structures built on them—become destabilized.One of the glaciers pictured on the site is Mont Blanc's Mer de Glace (or Sea of Ice), second-largest in the Alps. The glacier once extended all the way into Chamonix Valley, the reputed birthplace of mountaineering. Today it is barely visible from the tourist mecca. It is not an isolated retreat. The melting trend has been documented in alpine glaciers around the world, and the rate of melting has been rapidly hastening since the 1980s.