Glaciologists Produce Timelapse Film of Glacier Melt

Glaciologists in Italy’s Lombardy region have produced a timelapse film of the summer melting of the country’s Fellaria glacier, which accelerated dramatically, as did the melt of most other glaciers in the Alps, during the long hot summer of 2022.

The film has been produced by a camera first installed in June 2019 which has since recorded a total loss of 26 metres (86 feet) of ice thickness over four summers or 16 summer months.

 The glaciologists say that the 7.55m (25 feet) of ice thickness lost on the eastern tongue of the Fellaria glacier at 2650 m is a quantity never previously recorded on any Lombardy glacier.

“It is not easy to find the right adjectives to describe what has happened in the last four months on the Lombardy, Italian and Alpine glaciers. It is true that in a climatic regime characterized by rising temperatures, records are beaten more easily, but the hydrological year 2021-2022 was something more, something so anomalous that it forced us to update all the graphical scales,” said glaciologists Riccardo Scotti and Matteo Oreggioni, who added, “Something we hoped could not come so quickly and with this force. All the forecasts made in June, when we recorded a 70% snow deficit, were confirmed and made worse still by the tropical temperatures that raged from May to August. In the coming weeks we will try to account for the work in the field which, has never before been as demanding as it has been disturbing.”

They continue:

A year ago we wrote “The glaciers have no ears to listen to the inconsistent promises, in fact, chatter in the wind, which in the last 40 years have not led to any significant results … reduce emissions to zero, and at the same time extract too many climate-altering gases already accumulated in the atmosphere, it is the obligatory way to try to stabilize the climate and consequently the only possibility to save what will remain of the alpine glaciers (and not only them)”.

Nothing has improved in the last year, instead 2021 emissions saw a 6% increase reaching an all-time record value, despite the promises of the 2015 Paris Accords and the countless COPs for the climate.

Glaciers cannot lie, glaciers show us, without many words and more and more insistently, the figure of our current collective failure on climate policies.

Urgent change is needed because, as the latest IPCC report reminds us, after 2 degrees (and we have a 50% chance of reaching 1.5 within just four years) it will not just be glaciers at risk but also civilization as we know it.

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