Glacier Melt

Climate change can be hard to see unless it’s right in front of your eyes; for people living near glaciers that’s exactly the case. Glaciers have been melting since the start of the Industrial Revolution but in the past few decades the rate of thaw has sped up dramatically. While this obviously impacts winter sports, the real disaster is for communities who rely on healthy glaciers for clean water, hydro-electric supplies, and irrigation for agriculture. For them the future looks bleak.

There are calculated to be somewhere between 18,000 and 200,000 glaciers on Earth, located in 50 countries and spread across all continents.

According to a Swiss study published in 2019, and many others, thanks to global warming, these are disappearing fast.

Our planet’s glaciers continue to melt away, losing up to 390 billion tons of ice and snow per year between them.

Scientists calculate that if all of the glacier ice on Earth were to melt sea levels would increase by about 80 metres (270 feet) and ‘flood every coastal city on the planet’. It’s currently difficult to see how this will not ultimately happen.

Below you’ll find glacier health reports:



Albania is home to several small glaciers, among the most southerly in Europe, located in the Proklketije montains. A 2017 study reported that for the previous six years, changes in the size of the glaciers and snow patches in the area around Mt. Jezerce had been studied in detail. The study found that the largest of them, the glacieret Jezerce III, has had an average area of 4.5 hectares, down from a reported 1km length in the 1940s. Large fluctuation of the snow area was recorded in 2011–2016, with a considerable shrinkage in the years after 2013.


Dugdale Glacier

There are several thousand glaciers in Antarctica and no one seems to have counted all of them. Wikipedia lists about 500 hat have been given names but this may be less than 10% of the total. One study found 1619 glaciers around the edge of the continent alone. What most studies agree is that the ice is melting in Antarctica, increasingly rapidly. Around 28,000 square kilometres of ice-shelf also collapsed in to the sea and eventually melted between 1960 and 2010.


Viedma Glacier

Argentina is home to around 20 glaciers, many of them parts of the Patagonian Ice fields, remnants of the vast Patagonian Ice Sheet which covered a wider area during the last ice age.  These areas are still among the largest regions of ice on earth, outside Antarctica.  The Viedma Glacier is one of the  larger glacier that are part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, located at the southern end of mainland South America. Between the years 1984 and 2010, the Viedma Glacier reported a retreat rate of 84 metres per year but between 2010 and 2016 that rate of melt more than tripled to 281 metres per year. Pic credit NASA.


Australia is home to at least 18 glaciers located on Heard Island, an isolated 2745m high volcano, and the McDonald Islands in the southern Indian Ocean, part of Antarctica. Studies of these over the past two decades have revealed rapid glacier melt.

Brown Glacier, Australia

In a study published in 2008 “Glacier Recession on Heard Island, Southern Indian Ocean” Douglas Thost and Martin Truffer found glacier retreat has been widespread on Heard Island since the first observations in 1947. They estimated the Brown Glacier had lost around 29% of is mass between 1947 and 2004 decreasing in length from an estimated 6.18km to 4.38km and losing thickness too. The mass loss was consistent with a +0.9 °C warming over the same time span. The study further found that in the three year period at the end of the study from December 2000 to December 2003 the speed of ice loss had accelerated to more than double the 57 year average rate.


According to a 2016 study, Austrian glaciers lost 22 percent of their total volume in a 10-year span, between 2006 and 2016.

Mölltal Glacier, Carinthia

The Molltal glacier is the only glacier on the southern side of Austria’s Alps. It has, arguably, the world’s third longest ski season (behind year-round Hintertux and Zermatt), opening from June to May with a 5-6 week closure period. It could be argued that when it opens each June it’s the first to open for each new season. Sadly it has had to close for a period in most recent summers after all the snow cover melted from the glacial ice.

Stubai Glacier

There’s a battle underway to preserve one of the world’s remaining major summer ski glaciers. The Stubai Glacier lost 33% loss in its area in the four decades between 1969 and 2009 shrinking from 1.72 to 1.15 square kilometers (Aberman and others, 2009).  In 2017 an outburst flood from a glacial lake showed one of the dangers ahead, according to Kay Helfricht, a researcher with the Austria-based Institute for Interdisciplinary Mountain Research. The flood, triggered by a heavy rainstorm, scoured out a new outflow channel from the lake and damaged homes in the valley below. In 2020 after the glacier was forced to close early due to the COVID-19 pandemic it was covered with reflective material to try to slow the thaw.


Mt Bazardüzü North Face Glaciers

Recognised as among the most southerly glaciers in the northern hemisphere, they are located on the northeast face of Mount Bazarduzuis, a mountain peak in the Greater Caucasus range on the border between Daghestan and Azerbaijan and the country’s highest peak at 4,467 metres.  A 2013 study found glaciers in Azerbaijan shrunk 45% during the 20th century.


The Glaciers of Bhutan

Bhutan is home to more glaciers than most countries – with around 670 identified. In the late 20th century around 10% of the country’s surface was glaciated. However reports over the past few decades have largely painted a dire picture of rapid glacial retreat due to climate change with the possibility that all of the glaciers in the country will have gone by 2035, or sooner. Many are reported to be retreating by 20-30 metres a year. One report however says that some glaciers may last longer as they are shielded from the heat a little by debris such as rocks lying on their surface. The thawing creates a major issue in the country when it leads to glacial lakes contained within the ice, or formed behind walls of debris, having their walls collapse due to the growing weight of water above and causing sudden floods. An emergency fund has been set up to help communities impacted.



The former world’s highest ski area, 5,300 metres up on an 18,000 year old ‘permanent’ snow field in the Andes was accessed by a specially constructed road heroically built by the Bolivians in the 1930s.  The ski area closed in 2009 after the last of the snow melted away faster than expected. The loss of glaciers in the region is a bigger problem for water supplies, agriculture and hydro-electric plants.  


Banski Suhodol

Bulgaria has two small glaciers (glacieret) in the Pirin Mountains, below the Kutelo peak (2908m), the southernmost in Europe and once part of a mighty glacier.  The glacieret is less trhan 100 metres wide/long and exists within a shaded hollow, topped up by avalanche snow each winter, so continues to exist as it has for the past 500 years or so.


Horstman Glacier

The Horstman Glacier is one of the few places in North America open for summer skiing in June and July. Numerous snow camp operators have, however, reported deteriorating conditions on the glacier.  The site of a pilot project developing methods to preserve glaciers, it has snow fencing to trap snow and in 2015 snowmaking machines were installed to add artificial snow to the top of the glacier, with locally-generated hydro-electricity used to power the system.


Olivares Afa

Chile has one of the world’s largest reserves of fresh water outside the north and south poles, but the abundant glaciers that are the source of that precious commodity are melting fast. Rising temperatures and droughts are escalating the melting of Chile’s ice masses. Olivares Alfa, one of the largest glaciers in central Chile, used to be one single glacier system covering this whole valley; now it’s pulled back so much that it’s divided into four or five smaller glaciers.  Built up over thousands of years, the ice mass is now retreating 1m per year on average. Less than two decades from now, some glaciers will have disappeared, while the total volume of all glaciers in Chile will have shrunk by half by the end of the century. More than 7 million people living in and around the capital, Santiago, rely on the glaciers to feed most of their water supply in times of drought.


Mingyong Glacier

Located in the Yunnan Province, the Mingyong Glacier is the lowest lying in China, at just 2700 metres altitude. It is fed by snows which fall on 6740m high Mount Meili and is considered sacred by indigenous local people. The glacier is reported to be retreated at a rate of around 50 metres a year (200 metres lost in a four year study period) and in line with other glaciers in the country, reported to be declining by around 7% annually. The region has also seen a rising tree line.


Nevado del Ruiz

Nevado del Ruiz is a glacier-covered volcano located about 130km west of the capital city Bogotá. In  1959 the glaciated area was 34 square kilometres but this has since decreased due to climate change, and the impact of a catastrophic eruption in 1985.  By 2003 it had reduced to 10 square kilometres and its lowest point moved up the mountain from 4,500 metres in 1985 to 4,900 metres. The meltwater from the glacier feeds two rivers which supply fresh water to around 40 towns, so the likelihood that they will disappear completely is a major concern.


Rwenzori’s Glaciers

The Rwenzori Mountains is a mountain range, with some peaks over 5,000 metres high, of eastern equatorial Africa, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These mountains support glaciers and are one source of the Nile river. An ongoing concern is the impact of climate change on Rwenzori’s glaciers. In 1906, the Rwenzori had 43 named glaciers distributed over six mountains with a total area of 7.5 square kilometres (2.9 sq mi), about half the total glacier area in Africa. By 2005, less than half of these were still present, on only three mountains, with an area of about 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi). Recent scientific studies, such as those by Richard Taylor of University College London, have attributed this retreat to global climate change


Carihuairazo Glacier

Ecuador could lose two of its seven glaciers over the next few years thanks to global warming, a phenomenon that worries experts because it would alter the ecosystem and its effect on the nation’s water supply and humidity. Of the country’s 7 glaciers the most imminent threat concerns the glaciers of Carihuairazo and southern Iliniza. This increase has already left obvious signs that temperatures are changing, but according to another expert, Bolivar Caceres of the National Meteorological and Hydrological Institute , the threat is imminent.  In 2019 it was reported that 96 percent of the surface of Carihuairazo has melted, which means it could disappear by 2024. “Up to the end of 2018, an average nationwide loss of 53 percent of glacier coverage was recorded,” said the expert, adding that the height at which it was on average cold enough for glaciers to recover was now up to 5,120 metres (16,798 feet) above sea level but with Carihuairazo at 5,025 meters high, and the Iliniza is 4,750, so the two glaciers are in a “state of loss for which no recovery exists.”


Chamonix, La Vallée Blanche (Géant Glacier / Mer de Glace)

The number of glaciers able to offer summer skiing in the Alps has dropped from more than 40 in the 1990s to less than 20, with much shorter seasons and smaller surfaces, now. One of the most clearly visible signs of this thaw can be witnessed at the famous Valley Blanche above Chamonix, the world’s longest lift-accessed ski run. At the end of the main run, at the bottom of the glacier, there were, 30 years ago, just three steps up from the snow-covered blue ice surface to the lift up to Monenvers for the train ride back to Chamonix.  By 2000 the declining thickness of the glacier meant that gap had grown to 118 steps, by 2010 it was a thigh-destroying 320 steps in your ski boots and today we are nearly at 400. The climb out at the end of the Vallee Blanche run is now one of its greatest challenges for skiers and snowboarders.



One of the largest glaciers in Georgia and has the lowest terminus position for the whole Caucasus region — 1,980 m above sea level and intrudes into the forest zone. A 2019 study found that due to the impact climate change, the area of the Chalaati Glacier decreased from about 12.2 square km to 9.2 square km over the last century. The drastic change in the size of the glacier was made by comparing old and modern images of glaciers in Georgia which found that overall the glaciers were shrinking at an average rate of 0.4% per year.



A study conducted by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences in 2015 revealed that glaciers in the German state of Bavaria are shrinking rapidly due to rising global temperatures.  It found that the acreage covered by ice on the “Blaueis” and “Suedlicher Schneeferner” glaciers had more than halved over the past fifty years. The study has warned that the four glaciers could disappear entirely within the next twenty years, leaving the “Hoellentalferner” field on the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, as the only remaining glacier in the country. Here the glacier has been covered by a protective shield (a huge reflective tarpaulin) every summer for more than 25 years which has slowed but not stopped the rate of thaw.  Based on laser scans, the resort estimates the glacier has lost 40 metres in thickness over the last 40 years.


The Greenland Ice Sheet

Greenland is covered in glaciers which together form the country’s ice sheet. It’s the second largest area of ice in the world after Antarctica. The glaciers have been held in balance for centuries with fresh snowfall each winter replenishing summer melted ice …until recent times when, most years now, more ice is lost than is replenished. Temperatures at the sheet’s highest point have been below freezing for 700 years on all but three occasions – two of them in the past decade, July 2012 and August 2019. On the latter occasion the glacier-covered island lost 12.5 billion tons of ice in one day, climate scientists calculated. They reckon that’s enough to cover all of Florida with almost five inches of water, or, in metric units, enough to cover Germany with almost 7cm of water or Denmark with 50cm of water.  They say the rate of thaw of the Greenland ice sheet is currently running at the accelerated rated they had not expected until the 2070s.


Okjokull Glacier

The former Okjokull glacier in Iceland made world headlines in summer 2019 when a plaque was erected in its memory.  Believed to have been around 700 years old it was declared dead in 2014 when it got so small due to climate change melting it stopped moving. The ‘death’ of the glacier was considered particularly significant as it was originally larger than many of the small glaciers around the world that have already disappeared due to climate change. The rest of Iceland’s glaciers are expected to go the same way over the next 200 years.


Siachen Glacier

At 76 km (47 mi) long, the Siachen Glacier in the Himalayas, which runs along the Indian/Pakistan border, is the second-longest in the world’s non-polar areas. A survey by the Pakistan Meteorological Department in 2007 revealed found the glacier is melting at an alarming rate. On 2007 the rate of retreat was about 110 metres, decreasing in size by about a third since the early 1970s. This compares to a total 914m retreat measured during nearly 30 years between 1929–1958. Another study predicts all glaciers in the region will shrink to about one fifth of their 2011 size on average, by 2035.


Carsentsz Glacier

Indonesia had four glaciers at the start of this century but is now down to three as the The Meren Glacier on the summit of Puncak Jaya disappeared at some point before the end of 2000, probably in the late 1990s. The other three glaciers, Carstensz, West Northwall Firn and East Northwall Firn are also all on Puncak Jaya, Indonesia’s highest mountain at 4884m, and are also all retreating rapidly.  Australian adventurer and conservationist Tim Jarvis has visited the glaciers of Puncak Jaya. He heads a project called 25zero which is charting the disappearing icefields in six equatorial nations: Ecuador, Colombia, Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Indonesia. He believes most of those glaciers will be gone within 25 years.


In 2009 the Italian Glacier Committee noted that of the country’s then 111 glaciers 95 were retreating and 11 appeared stationary with two advancing. Since then it has got warmer.

Presena Glacier

The Presena Glacier usually offers skiing in to late spring and is one of three Italian areas still open for snowsports then. The glacier lost a third of its volume in less than two decades between 1993 and 2011. Since 2008 it has joined other Alpine glaciers in having a cover put over sections of it in the summer months, covering 90,000sqm. This reduces the rate of thaw by around 60%. It has been observed that during some hot summers snow cover which used to protect it melts away completely leaving the ice in areas not artificially covered exposed to direct summer sunshine.


Hida Mountain Glaciers

Until very recently there were no known glaciers in Japan, but between 2009 and 2011 a team using  “ice radar” found two glaciers on Mount Tsurugi and one on Mount Tateyama in the country’s Hida Mountains or Northern Alps. The masses are 27 to 30 meters deep and 400 to 1,200 metres long and moving between 10 and 30cm a month. In July 2018 a heatwave which killed 1,032 people, saw temperatures reach 41.1C, the highest temperature ever recorded in Japan. Torrential rains also triggered landslides and the worst flooding in decades. A 2019 study determined the temperature and resulting weather could not have happened without man-made temperature rises.


Gorodetsky Glacier

The Gorodetsky Glacier is located on the northern slope of the Zailiysky Alatau mountains and is named after archaeologist Vladimir Dmitrievich Gorodetsky who visited it in 1916.  The glacier descends in two branches to (when last measured several years ago) 3770m altitude on one side and 2650m on the other with the top of the glacier at around 4000 metres. Between 1938 and 1961 the glacier retreated by 320m on the left side and the rate of retreat has since accelerated according to reports.


The Lewis Glacier

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that only 10 of the 18 glaciers that covered Mt Kenya’s summit a century ago remain, leaving less than one third of the previous ice cover. The Lewis Glacier, the largest on Mt Kenya, has decreased by 90% in volume since 1934, with the highest rates of ice volume loss occurring since the turn of the century.



Located in the Central Tian Shan Mountains northeastern Kyrgyzstan, Engilchek is the sixth longest non-polar glacier in the world and is the largest and fastest moving glacier in Kyrgyzstan. At over 60 kilometres long and with an area of 17.2 square kilometres and an ice thickness of roughly 150–200 metres in the bottom parts it’s an impressive glacier, and its upper part extends in to three countries. The glacier is reported to be shrinking fast due to climate change with average temperature growth around 1.6ºC over the past 70 years meaning that, at the turn of the 21st century, according to some projections, half of Kyrgyzstan’s territory may be subject to desertification.


Mexico has about 20 glaciers left, all of which are located on Pico de Orizaba (Citlaltépetl) and Iztaccíhuatl, two of the three tallest mountains in the country. Three more glaciers that existed on Popocatépetl (pictured in 2006), the third of the three highest peaks, had all melted away by 2006, partly due to climate change but in its case more due to volcanic activity from below.

Gran Glaciar Norte

Gran Glaciar Norte is the largest ice cap and snow field in México. It is located on Pico de Orizaba (Volcán Citlaltépetl) (5,636 metres (18,491 ft)) which is the highest point in Mexico. It contains nine named glaciers, including seven outlet glaciers, and a mountain niche glacier. The elevation of these glaciers range from near 5,610 m (18,410 ft) to 4,700 m (15,400 ft). Mexico’s glaciers are condemned to disappear because of climate change, Hugo Delgado, director of the Geophysics Institute at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), said in 2018.


The Potanin Glacier

The Potanin Glacier is the longest glacier in Mongolia at 14 kilometres and runs through in the Altai Tavan Bogd and Altai Mountains. As with most other glaciers it is shrinking, seen to be shortening at a rate of 15 metres a year in a six year study to 2009 and also thinning by 2.6 meters per year.


Debali Namet

A small glacier below the mountain of Šljeme (2,455m) in the Durmitor massif, is, like others in the region, sustained by avalanching winter and spring snow falling on top of it to form a protective layer from the sun’s warmth through summer and autumn, despite being located well below the snowline for much of the year.  A 2007 study of the glacier by Philip Hughes (the picture left is his copyright) was published.


Himalayan Glaciers

Two-thirds of Himalayan glaciers – the world’s “Third Pole” – could melt by 2100 if global emissions are not sharply reduced, scientists warned in a major study published in 2019. Even if the most ambitious Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius is achieved, one-third of the glaciers would disappear, according to the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment. Glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya region are a critical water source for some 250 million people in the mountains, as well as to 1.65 billion others in the river valleys below, the 650-page report said. Five years in the making, the report was published by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Nepal, one of eight countries on the front line. More than 350 researchers and policy experts, 185 organisations, 210 authors, 20 editors and 125 external reviewers contributed to its completion.


A survey of glaciers in New Zealand in the 1970s gave a total of 3155 glaciers but it’s believed that 750 or so of these have subsequently melted away and with record temperatures most years glaciologists report its likely most and possibly all will have gone by the end of the century. The rate of thaw is accelerating.

Te Moeka o Tuawe (Fox Glacier)

A 13 kilometre-long glacier located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Te Moeka o Tuawe descends 2,600 vertical metres through the Southern Alps and ends up passing through rain forest towards the sea, only 300 metres above sea level. It is one of the few glaciers in the world to report growth of an average of around a metre a week for 24 years between 1985 and 2009, having retreated for the previous century, but it is now in rapid retreat.  It’s 2009 extent is clearly visible as the end of vegetation’s level.


There are 2,535 glaciers in Norway. Jostedalsbreen (474 square kilometers), Vestre Svartisen (219 square kilometers) and Søndre Folgefonna (164 square kilometers) are the nation’s largest.. The total area covered by glaciers has decreased by 11 percent in the last 30 years according to the Center for International Climate Research (CICERO). 326 square kilometres have disappeared since the mid-1980s.  If warming continues at the present rate scientists expect all of the country’s glaciers will have melted away by 2100. If the world manages to meet the Paris Climate Change target it could be ‘only’ 60%.


Glaciologist Miriam Jackson, Norway’s state waterways and energy directorate NVE,  has been studying Engabreen, an arm of the glacier Svartisen, for more than 20 years. During that time it has retreated more than 500 metres with the rate of melt rapidly accelerating in recent summers, including a 140 metre retreat in 2018 alone.

“We talked for a long time that what we’re seeing today could happen, and now it is,” Jackson told the Dagsavisen newspaper. “And it can go very fast.”


Norway’s third largest glacier is also home to one of the country’s three summer ski areas. In 2019 Folgefonna’s closure came at a record early date in July, having planned to stay open to September, with its manager claiming that he’d never seen such summer melting, calling it “extreme.”


Passu Glacier

Pakistan is home to more than 60 glaciers including some that, unlike most others in the world, appear to be growing, although not in a normal way. They are surging fast to lower altitudes causing a different set of problems. But the main issue of glacier loss at glaciers like Passu, which is shrinking and becoming increasingly unstable remains the main issue for local residents. Water sources are becoming increasingly unreliable which in some places means long standing water supplies drying up, in others the collapse of fast-formed glacial melt-water lakes which causes flooding, and damage from falling debris.


About 99 percent of the world’s tropical glaciers are located in the Andes, with around 70 percent found in Peru.  The Peruvian government announced in 2014 that climate change has caused the nation’s glaciers to shrink by 40 percent over the past four decades, resulting in the creation of nearly 1,000 new high-altitude lakes since 1980.

Quelccaya Ice Cap

Quelccaya is the largest tropical ice cap in the world, although some reports say it is now “formerly the world’s largest tropical ice cap.” In any event it covers a (shrinking) area the size of more than 9,000 football fields draping an entire high-elevation plateau in thick ice.  Detailed studies over the decades have revealed an alarming rate of glacier melt and scientists believe the ice cap will have gone completely by 2050.


Scărișoara Glacier Cave

An unusual underground glacier, found 1200 metres up in the Carpathian mountains and believed to have formed 10,000 years ago during a period of glacier growth when the region’s mountains were covered by snow and ice. It is the second largest known ‘glacier cave’ in the world and Europe’s biggest with an estimated volume of 75,000 cubic metres, a length of 720 metres and ice up to 20 metres thick. However scientists say the ice cave, like others around the world, is melting fast. An ice core sample revealed climate details from the past 10,000 years but started 150 years ago as ice containing data from the last 15 decades had melted away.


Vavilov Ice Cap

Located up by the Arctic Ocean in Northeastern Russia, the outlet glacier of Vavilov Ice Cap suddenly went from sliding 20 metres per year to 20 metres per day in spring 2013. “If this continues, we could be witnessing the demise of this ice cap. Already, Vavilov has thinned enough that snow has stopped accumulating on its upper reaches, and it is a small ice cap in the first place. This event has forced us to rethink how cold-based glaciers work. It may be that they can respond more quickly to warming climate or changes at their bases than we have thought,” said glaciologist Michael Willis.


Skuta Glacier

Located beneath mount Skuta, this is one of two surviving glaciers in Slovenia and the most south-easterly in the Alps. Due to climate change it has shrunk by almost half over the six-decades from 1950, when it had an area of 2.8 hectares, to 2013, when it was down to 1.6 hectares.  The rate of melt has since accelerated.



Formerly the largest glacier in the Pyrenees with ice several hundred metres thick, today, global warming has broken the ice sheet in to (currently) eleven glaciers that together total less than three hundred acres between them.  The Cregüella, Alba and Salenques glaciers are reported to be in a particularly poor state of health.  The melt rate is reported to be increasing rapidly by glaciologists studying the area, who believe the ice will all be gone by the mid-21st-century.



Sweden’s former highest point lost its designation in July 2018 after high temperatures over 20C above 2,000 metres altitude melted four metres of snow depth between July 2 and July 31 that year.

“This glacier is a symbol for all the glaciers in the world. This whole environment is melting, the snow is melting, and it affects the entire ecosystem: the plants, the animals, the climate, everything,”  Stockholm University geography professor Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, who is also the head of the Tarfala research station near Kebnekaise told AFP, adding, “It looked different this year. The snow was melting, the glacier surface has never been as low as it is now. I saw meltwater trickling down the sides, I’ve never seen that before,” Dr Rosqvist said. 

The glacier, whose height has been measured since 1880, had previously been melting by an average one metre every year over the past two decades, according to Stockholm University.


Aletsch Glacier

Europe’s largest glacier has lost more than two miles of its size over the past 150 years but the rate of thaw has accelerated dramatically in recent years, with more than half of that loss occurring since the 1980s, as almost every summer now sees record (or near record) warm temperatures.  If it continues to melt at this current rate, by the end of this century the surface of the Aletsch Glacier could shrivel from 118 square kilometres (2010) to 35km2, leaving a volume of ice of 1.7 cubic kilometres or less than 10% its current volume, warns the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (BAFU).

Morteratsch Glacier

The Morteratsch glacier has retreated more than 2.8 km over the past 170 years. Back in 1850 the snout of the glacier reached a point that is today where the Pontresina railway station is located. Much of the loss has happened in recent years, during the last 20 years the glacier front retreated on average by 44 metres per year. In 2018 the glacier covered an area of approximately 7.5 km2. A new project conceived by a glaciologist aims to stop further decline of the glacier by using snowmaking (a new system that uses water force rather than electric power to operate) to protect it.


Fedchenko Glacier

The Fedchenko Glacier the longest glacier in the world outside of the polar regions, and is located r in the Pamir Mountains. It extends for 77 kilometres and covers over 700 square kilometres with a  maximum thickness of 1,000 metres. It begins 6,200m up and starts to melt down at 2,900 metres. It’s estimated volume is a huge 144 cubic kilometres of ice. The glacier has been studied for 150 years and actually grew between 1910-1913 moving forward about a kilometre. However it has been receding since 1928.  The glacier is reported be melting at a rate of 20 metres a year.


Mount Kilimanjaro

The highest mountain in Africa and the highest single free-standing mountain in the world, with its summit of 5,895 metres (19,341 ft) above sea level and at about 4,900 metres (16,100 ft) high from its plateau base. Because of its shrinking glaciers and disappearing ice fields, the mountain has been the subject of many scientific studies.  In the late 1880s, the summit of Kilimanjaro’s Kibo peak was completely covered by an ice cap about 20 square kilometres (7.7 sq mi) in extent with outlet glaciers cascading down the western and southern slopes. The glaciers retreated rapidly between 1912 and 1953, in response to a sudden shift in climate at the end of the 19th century that made them “drastically out of equilibrium”, and more slowly thereafter. Their continuing demise indicates they are still out of equilibrium in response to a constant change in climate over the past century.


Rwenzori’s Glaciers

The Rwenzori Mountains is a mountain range, with some peaks over 5,000 metres high, of eastern equatorial Africa, located on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). These mountains support glaciers and are one source of the Nile river. An ongoing concern is the impact of climate change on Rwenzori’s glaciers. In 1906, the Rwenzori had 43 named glaciers distributed over six mountains with a total area of 7.5 square kilometres (2.9 sq mi), about half the total glacier area in Africa. By 2005, less than half of these were still present, on only three mountains, with an area of about 1.5 square kilometres (0.58 sq mi). Recent scientific studies, such as those by Richard Taylor of University College London, have attributed this retreat to global climate change


Fortuna Glacier

As with Australia, the UK does not have glaciers on its main land mass. However it does on one island it controls, although the ownership of it is disputed with Argentina – South Georgia. A 2008 study of 36 of the island’s 160 or so glaciers found that two were still advancing, 28 were retreating and six were possibly stable or showed a complex, ambiguous response.


Hunter Mountain Glaciers, Alaska

A team of researchers extracted ice cores from the glaciers on Mt. Hunter, in Alaska. The ice cores held snow and ice from as far back as 400 years. The researchers showed that the amount of water melt currently is 60 times greater than it was prior to 1850. They also found that the summertime temperature changes on Mt. Hunter are almost 2°C per century (about 3.5°F). To put this in perspective, the temperatures are rising about twice as fast as global temperatures.

Pacific Northwest Glaciers

Glaciers in western North America are melting four times faster in the last decade, compared to the previous one, according to a University of Washington 2019 study. The authors believe that changes in the jet stream have exacerbated the long-term effects of climate change. The authors got their data by comparing satellite images of glaciers from 2000 to 2009 and from 2009 to 2018. 



The last glacier in Venezuela is reported to be melting fast and likely to be gone completely in the next few years. Located on Venezuela’s second highest peak, at 4,940 metres above sea level, high in the Venezuelan Andes, the mountain is named after German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. The remaining glacier covers an area of less than a tenth of a square kilometre.  The area was once the world’s second highest lift-accessed ski area (behind Chacaltaya in Bolvia – see above), albeit a rather tenuous one with very limited skiing possible.