- The path to get to Fellaria Glacier
During the summer days, to escape from the unbearable heat of the city, I often head to the mountains and last weekend I decided to visit the wonderful Fellaria Glacier, in Lombardy, a region in northern Italy. It is one of the many disappearing glaciers in the Alps.
- The Fellaria Glacier
The Fellaria Glacier, or Vedretta di Fellaria as known in Italian, rises 3,500 meters above the frozen desert of the Fellaria Plateau. From there one can admire some of the most important peaks of the Bernina Group. It reminds me of a small Icelandic lagoon dotted with many small icebergs.
How global warming affects Italian glaciers
Unmitigated industrial activity has increased GHG emissions for the last 150 years, and since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, emissions have continued to rise. To date, emissions have already caused a global temperature increase of about 1.1°C since pre-industrial levels. Rising temperatures have had a direct effect on glaciers worldwide, and in Italy, the Fellaria-Palu’ has lost most of its ice mass during the summertime. You can see the evolution of this glacier by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z0u0WIi0SSc
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In 1850 the Fellaria Glacier stretched for about 23 square kilometres and descended to 2,100 meters. Today the glacier has been reduced to 9 kilometres squared, with the front split in two, forming the Fellaria West which is now at an altitude of 2,750 meters and the Fellaria East which is now at an altitude of about 2,600 meters. Scientists predict that over 90% of Alp glaciers will be completely lost in the next 80 years.
During my visit, I witnessed several collapses, some even large and that caused some really loud roars. However, the roar that was created in our minds was even stronger, as it echoed a stark reminder of the negative impact of climate change on the natural world. Over the years, even the lower segment of the Glacier has undergone a remarkable retreat, reforming the glacial lakes that were once two, into a single large lake.
The area of the western Fellaria has completely lost the front compared to the 2000s, reducing to an altitude of 2,500 meters and giving rise to a glacial lake.
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The decay of the Fellaria Glacier, presented a stark similarity to the collapse of the Marmolada glacier, a tragedy that happened a week ago in Italy, resulting in 7 deaths and 13 missing people.
In the afternoon of Sunday 3 July, a large serac (a gigantic block of ice, shaped like a tower or a pinnacle, resulting from the opening of crevasses) detached from just below the summit of the Marmolada glacier, at about 3 thousand meters of altitude, falling for 500 meters on the normal route at an estimated speed of 300 km/h.
The main cause of the collapse has been attributed to the record-high temperatures that Europe has been experiencing this summer. With the thermal zero at more than 4 thousand meters, the temperature of the mountain was detected at 10.2 C. Access to the Marmolada glacier has been prohibited due to the presence of other blocks of frozen matter which make its path extremely dangerous.
We are too accustomed to recognizing tragedies only when human lives are involved, not realizing that the life of the planet puts at stake the life of all of us. The deterioration of the Fellaria only presents a small glimpse into what will be the future of the world’s natural wonders should the earth continue to warm at the rate it is now.