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In the Alps, the Écrins massif and its glaciers, victims of global warming

Twitter account Davide Asnicar The Écrins massif photographed from an airplane in the summer of 2022.

Twitter account Davide Asnicar

The Écrins massif photographed from an airplane in the summer of 2022.

ENVIRONMENT – “It now looks like a desert.” The Écrins massif, with its Glacier-Blanc and the four peaks of Mont Pelvoux, has lost almost all of its white mantle, as evidenced by an aerial photo published on Monday August 1 by the researcher at the University of Padua in Italy, Davide Asnicar. “A spooky photo above the glacier taken this morning. They are really thin and dark! », he added on his Twitter accountstating that the photo was taken from an airplane.

An observation amplified in this summer of 2022 due to the high temperatures or heat records recorded, even at altitude, since May in the Alps. Only a few eternal snows on the north faces of the highest peaks or the pro-glacial lakes of the Arsine glacier, in the foreground, contrast with the greyish whole of the massif.

The presence of sands and “desert dust”brought by the wind from the Sahara, also appears in the photo, as highlighted by Météo France forecaster Gaétan Heymes, based in Briançon in the Hautes-Alpes.

Comparative photos between 1895, 1983 and 2022, published in a report produced at the end of July by our colleagues from World, bear witness to the impact of global warming on the Glacier-Blanc, located on the north face of the Barre des Écrins. It has retreated 1 kilometer for 35 years, at a rate of 60 meters per year, according to data collected by the newspaper. the colossus “disappears with the naked eye”, explains Thierry Maillet, heritage technician at the national park, in the Vallouise sector.

The phenomenon “has accelerated over the past seven years”according to Thierry Maillet.We expect a historically low mass balance for Glacier-Blanc, at least equivalent to the melting record of 2003, or even worse,” he adds. The guardian of the Glacier-Blanc refuge, Nicolas Chaud, talks about the daily falls of blocks of ice or even a drying up of the water supplying the refuge from the snowfields, these piles of hardened snow which until then fed the glacier and the dwelling.

“90 to 95% of the volume of ice in the Ecrins by 2100”

“It was this year that I realized that global warming is really here,” Nicolas Chaud on a daily basis. Same observation at the level of the glacial tongues of Ailefroide, Mummy, Violettes and Pelvoux. Half of the 120 glaciers listed on the massif in 1950 have disappeared. “We will lose 90 to 95% of the volumes of ice in the Écrins by 2100”, explains to World Emmanuel Thibert, glaciologist from the National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food and the Environment (Inrae).

The disappearance of glaciers and snowfields brings to light crevasses and cracks which are not without consequence for the practice of mountaineering. Thursday, July 28, two Czechs, missing for three days, were found dead at the bottom of a crevasse of the Glacier-Blanc. ” They were quite well equipped but the conditions for going to the barre des Écrins are really very difficult at the moment because the crevasses are much more numerous with the heat and the melting of the glacier. “, alerted the public prosecutor of Gap, Florent Crouhy.

See also on The HuffPost: In Paris, this huge cooling network that uses the Seine to cool the city

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