Tragic disappearance of glaciers in the Pyrenees predicted

Europe’s southernmost glaciers are likely to nearly disappear in the next two decades due to climate change, as ice mass reduction in the Pyrenees continues at a constant rapid rate, seen since at least the 1980s. This is predicted by Spanish scientists who published an article in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Since 2011, in the Pyrenees between Spain and France, three glaciers have disappeared or turned into strips of ice. In 17 of the two dozen remaining ice sheets, ice thickness decreased by an average of 6.3 meters. Mass has declined by more than one-fifth (23 percent) in nearly one decade.

Scientists say the reason is global climate change and, in particular, a general increase in temperature of 1.5 degrees Celsius in the Iberian region since the 19th century. According to geologists, such changes should have been a tragedy for the landscape of the Pyrenees and its biodiversity, but the exact consequences remain unknown.

Scientists have discovered a decrease in ice thickness of up to 20 meters in some places of the fastest melting glaciers. The shrinkage of the four largest ice sheets occurs at a steady rate, compared to the shrinkage rate of the smaller ice sheets. The study authors conclude that they can confidently assert that the Pyrenean glaciers are in extreme danger and could disappear or turn into residual ice patches in about two decades.

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