The Alps are a complex system of mountain ranges in south-central Europe that extends about 1,000 km in a crescent shape along Italy’s common border with Slovenia, Austria, Switzerland, and France.
As striking features of the natural environment, glaciers often play a role in the history and culture of the regions where they are found.
“In the Alps, it is the glaciers which provide the clearest evidence of the changes wrought by global warming. In recent decades many Alpine glaciers have shrunk to half their earlier size, and by the end of the century all the glaciers of the Alps, with a few exceptions, may well have melted away.
Temperatures in the Alps have risen by just under 2°C over the past 120 years, almost twice as much as the global average. And they are set to rise even more.
But the Alps are not just a casualty; they are also one of the contributing factors to climate problems. The facts researched by CIPRA as part of the cc.alps project show that mankind plays a key role. The Alps consume around 10% more energy per capita than the European average. Private households are among the biggest energy guzzlers, with heating accounting for by far the biggest share. And since most of the buildings in the Alps are in need of renovation, one of the keys to the mitigation of climate change is the construction industry.
Tourism and transport are two other problem areas for the climate in the Alps. With over 93%, motorized road traffic bears the main responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions caused by traffic in the Alps. The motor car is used for 84% of holiday travel to the Alps. This is an area where there is an urgent need for innovative ideas and solutions; after all, the Alps are one of the most important holiday regions in Europe, and many livelihoods depend on the tourism industry.” – source CIPRA – click here for the whole content
Retreating glaciers have inspired a new field of scientific discovery: glacial archaeology. Perhaps the most famous discovery in the Alps was the well-preserved mummy of a Neolithic man nicknamed “Ötzi” in 1991. More recently, a team of scientists working in Oppland, Norway, uncovered more than 2,000 artifacts, including Neolithic arrows, Bronze Age clothing, and skis from Viking Age traders.