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Sat Apr 27, 2013, 09:37 AM

Der Spiegel - Rapid Glacial Loss Changing Switzerland; 500-600 New Large Lakes Forecast

EDIT

In the 1990s, the first cracks began to appear in the mighty tongue of the Trift Glacier in the central Swiss canton of Bern. In 2002, the peak of the ice mass burst into thousands of pieces. Since it lay in a hollow, the water swelled into a lake rather than flowing out. The Trift Lake then became an attraction: Hundreds of tourists per day now visit the suspension bridge that hangs over this new body of water. "Many more people come to the glacier than before," says Wilfried Haeberli of Zürich University.

The geographer and his colleagues calculate that, in the coming years, hundreds of such lakes will come into being in the Swiss Alps alone. In Austria, the Andes and other mountainous regions heavily affected by climate change, similar dramatic environmental transformations are occuring. "The rapid melting of glaciers is radically changing the Alpine landscape," Haeberli reported at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union (EGU) in Vienna. The ice region is in many places becoming a landscape of lakes.

New bodies of water would bring opportunities as well as risks. Tourists could take in something new, and reservoirs could supply hydroelectric power. Towns in these regions, however, see a looming danger: Avalanches threaten to tumble into the lakes, sending tidal waves that could be dozens of meters high surging down into the valley.

Haeberli and his colleagues estimate there will be 500 to 600 major lakes in the Swiss high mountain region "in the foreseeable future." With progressive global warming, three new bodies of water per year will emerge, according to their calculations. The forecast is based on a computer model designed to show the ground underneath the glaciers. The way an ice mass moves and how it creases reveal the nature of the subsoil on which it is dwindling away.

EDIT

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/melting-glaciers-turning-alps-into-lake-region-a-896729.html

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Reply Der Spiegel - Rapid Glacial Loss Changing Switzerland; 500-600 New Large Lakes Forecast (Original post)
hatrack Apr 2013 OP
GliderGuider May 2013 #1
hatrack May 2013 #2
GliderGuider May 2013 #3

Response to hatrack (Original post)

Sun May 5, 2013, 08:33 PM

1. And when one of those high alpine lakes bursts?

 

This could get interesting...

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Response to GliderGuider (Reply #1)

Mon May 6, 2013, 07:54 AM

2. The Swiss, at least, have the money and tech to prepare early-warning systems

People in Peru, Pakistan, Tajikistan, India, a little less so . . .

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Response to hatrack (Reply #2)

Mon May 6, 2013, 09:29 AM

3. Good point. nt

 

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