Alps Glaciers Gone by 2050, Expert Says

Glaciers are quickly disappearing from the Alps and will be all but gone by 2050, a climate expert said Monday. That’s 50 years earlier than a July 2006 study predicted.

The loss would change the supply of drinking and irrigation water, lead to more falling rocks, and cripple the European ski industry.

On average about 3 percent of Alpine glacial ice is lost each year, said Roland Psenner, a fresh water scientist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. That corresponds to about 3.3 feet (1 meter) of ice thickness.

Ten percent was lost in the record-breaking heat of 2003. Seven percent was lost in 2006, Psenner said.

“If the melting goes on at this pace, glaciers will be gone by 2030 to 2050—except some high-altitude sites in the French, Swiss, and Italian Alps,” he wrote in an email to National Geographic News.

Psenner’s research was discussed Monday at an annual conference on the Alps in the Austrian mountain resort of Alpbach.

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