Prolongued summer heat in the Alps decimates European Glaciers

ummer skiing on Europe's glaciers is severly limited at the moment after the exceptionally long period of high temperatures melted away a substantial part of the snow and ice cover and left exposed granite rock surfaces.

The Molltal glacier is now the third of seven Alpine glaciers -open for summer skiing- that has been forced to cease snowsports recently. The news from the Molltal follows the announcement last month from Austria's Dachstein glacier that it will no longer operate a terrain park due to climate change

The high temperatures that have hit central Europe over the past weeks have also taken their toll on Italy's glaciers, with a summer ski resort at the Stelvio Pass having to make the historic decision to suspend its activities due to worsening conditions at the Alpine glacier. However, it has since re-opened limited terrain following an unexpected break in the heat when glaciers received up to 35cm of fresh snow in mid-August.

Dramatic conditions at the Stelvio Gletscher

Cervinia, Italy’s other summer ski destination, is reported as closed and its own snow report page is down and the webcam images of the glacier also look grim, however a message on its website says the centre is open for summer skiing today.

Elsewhere, Les 2 Alpes is the only glacier ski area currently open in France, it reports a 35cm base but describes its snow conditions as tough. Webcam images show a glacier with the snow melted away to show the ice beneath.

Cover looks only marginally better at the only other Austrian centre currently open, Hintertux, which has a 35cm base and runs are open with cover partially icy.

In Switzerland Saas Fee and Europe’s highest slopes at Zermatt are open. They report 50 and 60cm snow depths but also a fairly poor snow cover.

Half a dozen Austrian glacier ski areas are aiming to open in around three weeks’ time, conditions permitting.

Scientists have said that climate change is partly to blame for the latest heat wave. A forecaster with Meteo France told that while these events are not new in Europe, their duration and intensity are unprecedented. “We have always had them but their length and intensity has notched up since the 1950s and 60s and they are increasingly coming earlier or later” said the Meteo France meteorologist.

Written by skiweather on Monday August 21, 2017

Categories: snowreport, skiweather - Tags: gletscher, climate, change

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