Shrinking glaciers

The melting of Switzerland’s glaciers has been observed for many years. Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the volume of glaciers in Switzerland has decreased by more than half. As temperatures increase, glaciers melt faster and precipitation falls more often as rain than as snow. When glaciers melt, the important “glacial reservoir” of the water balance changes.

At the moment, glaciers are not in equilibrium with the current climate conditions. Were the climate to remain as it is today, the glaciers would continue to shrink over the next several decades to half of their current volume. However, experts expect an increase in temperature of 3°C by the year 2085 (plus or minus one degree). This warming will have severe repercussions for Swiss glaciers: according to models, only 20 to 30% of the current glacier volume will remain by 2100. Most of the remaining glacier volume will be in the Rhone catchment area, thanks to the largest glacier in Switzerland, the Aletsch.

Evolution of the volume of water stored in Swiss glaciers (Rhone and Rhine river basins, Engadine and Ticino). Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the glacier volume has decreased by half. More than 70% of the remaining volume should be gone by the end of this century. FOEN, 2012.
Evolution of the volume of water stored in Swiss glaciers (Rhone and Rhine river basins, Engadine and Ticino). Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the glacier volume has decreased by half. More than 70% of the remaining volume should be gone by the end of this century. FOEN, 2012. (Image: OFEV 2012)
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Evolution of the volume of water stored in Swiss glaciers (Rhone and Rhine river basins, Engadine and Ticino). Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the glacier volume has decreased by half. More than 70% of the remaining volume should be gone by the end of this century. FOEN, 2012.
Evolution of the volume of water stored in Swiss glaciers (Rhone and Rhine river basins, Engadine and Ticino). Since the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850, the glacier volume has decreased by half. More than 70% of the remaining volume should be gone by the end of this century. FOEN, 2012. (Image: OFEV 2012)
Gletscher
Gletscher
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Gletscher
Gletscher
Water in Switzerland – An Overview
  • 2014

Water in Switzerland – An Overview

Starting with the origin of Switzerland’s abundant water
resources,
the high amount of precipitation in the Alps, relevant
hydrological, water management, social and environmental
aspects
of water are considered.

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2020
Mar 28
The Swiss Glaciers 2015/16 and 2016/17
  • 2018

The Swiss Glaciers 2015/16 and 2016/17

Glaciological Report (Glacier) No. 135/136 about the Swiss Glaciers 2015/16 and 2016/17, under review by the Cryospheric Commission.