2023 set to be another bad year for Swiss glaciers – researcher

In the European Alps, glaciers melted to a record degree last year due to low winter snowfall.

A leading Swiss glaciologist warned Wednesday that 2023 was looking “not good” for the country’s glaciers, a year after they suffered a record melt.

“Still more than a month to go in the melting season. How are Swiss glaciers doing at the moment? Not good!” glaciology professor Matthias Huss, head of Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland (GLAMOS), said on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

‘Disastrous year’ for Swiss glaciers

The warning comes after the Swiss glaciers faced a “disastrous year” in 2022, as “all ice melt records were smashed,” according to a study published by the Cryospheric Commission (CC) of the Swiss Academy of Sciences last September.

ALSO READ: UN reports ‘off the charts’ melting of glaciers

Huss said he was very curious to see the final measurements for the year in mid-September, stressing that the situation so far a”not as extreme as in 2022″.

But, he cautioned, “we are still on track for the second-most negative year in history”.

“Despite a rather cool period in the last weeks, all glaciers are clearly below the average of the last 10 years,” he said, “And a new heat wave is unfolding now.”

According to the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the past eight years have been the warmest on record.

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The United Nation agency predicts it is likely that global temperatures will temporarily rise beyond the Paris Agreement threshold of 1.5C above the pre-industrial levels for at least one of the next five years.


In the European Alps, glaciers melted to a record degree last year due to low winter snowfall, Saharan dust settling on the surface in March and then heatwaves between May and early September.

ALSO READ: Melting glaciers, fast-disappearing gauge of climate change

The situation was particularly dramatic in Switzerland, with the glaciers seeing three cubic kilometres of ice — three trillion litres of water — melt away, according to the CC report.

That was equivalent to over six percent of their ice volume. Up until then, a two-percent loss in a single year had been considered extreme, it said.

Huss has warned that Switzerland’s glaciers are likely to all but disappear by the end of this century unless radical measures are taken to slow the working.

ALSO READ: Iceland’s glaciers lose 750 km2 in 20 years

The WMO has meanwhile warned that the game is already up for glaciers and there is no way to stop them melting further unless a way is found to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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