Melting glaciers: comparison of photographs 100 years apart
Melting glaciers: comparison of photographs 100 years apart

Strange as it may sound, but the problems associated with global warming, on the one hand, cause an unprecedented resonance in modern society, and on the other hand, very few people understand what is happening. In order to clearly show that these are not just another "horror stories" of ecologists, we decided to collect photographs of alpine glaciers made by caring researchers in the range of 100 years. The comparison result was really impressive.

Glacier Bossons on the north side of Mont Blanc (Swiss Alps, images from 1880 and 2010)

The melting of glaciers has become the most visible criterion by which the impacts of climate change can be measured. Scientists and ecologists are sounding the alarm, because this process is the clearest evidence of the ongoing warming, which is fundamentally affecting the entire system of hydro resources of the planet.

Trift-Gletscher in Valais (Swiss Alps, photographs 1891 and 2010)

In order to understand the magnitude of the problem, from time to time, researchers travel to the places that are most affected by climate change. For example, a comparison of photographs taken in the Alps at different times clearly shows that their unshakable power is catastrophically decreasing, and further forecasts are also disappointing.

View of Mount Dent Blanche from Ferpecle Glacier (Swiss Alps, 1900s)

Reference:It has been scientifically proven that over the past 170 years, the area of ​​the Swiss glaciers has decreased by half. In 1850, their area was 1,735 km², and by 2020, only 890 square km remained of them. It is completely depressing that the rate of melting increases every year. If in the first 120 years the ice area in the alpine highlands has decreased by 400 square meters, then over the last 50 - the glaciers have decreased by 445 square meters.

Walter Mittelholzer (1894-1937) - Swiss pilot and first aero

With the emergence of aviation, researchers and scientists have a unique opportunity to observe the disappointing process from the sky. More recently, the world was shocked by new images of the Scottish University of Dundee, which decided to conduct an aerial survey of the landscape of the area, which was photographed by Walter Mittelholzer 100 years ago.

The Swiss National Museum has a permanent exhibition dedicated to the work of Walter Mittelholzer

Curriculum Vitae: St. Gallen Walter Mittelholzer (1894-1937) combined aviation and photography into a lucrative business. He was a pilot, book author, entrepreneur, media star, Swissair co-founder and photographer. During his short life, he made films, made photo and video reports, wrote books and collected a huge collection of photographs, consisting of more than 18 thousand photographs, which he took while traveling around the world. Despite the fact that Mittelholzer was an avid pilot, he died from a collapse in a mine while filming his next masterpiece.

Kiran Baxter by helicopter

According to the editors of Novate.Ru, Kieran Baxter and Alice Watterston flew over Mont Blanc Bossons, Mer de Glacy and Argentier, taking a series of photographs of the mountain landscape, which were shot in August 1919 by Walter Mittelholzer. Mountain peaks and peaks, seen in the photo of their predecessor, became anchor points for geolocation.


One of the members of the scientific expedition commented on what he saw: “The extent of the ice loss became apparent as soon as we took to the skies, but only by comparing images taken from one point, it was possible to see changes over the past 100 years. It was a thrilling and heartbreaking sight, especially knowing that melting has accelerated dramatically over the past few decades.”

The Mer de Glace glacier in 1919 and 2019

Through their work, the researchers clearly demonstrated the extent of the melting of glaciers, which became another proof of how destructively global warming affects the ice fields of the Alps.

Mont Blanc Bosson glacier in 1919 and 2019

In Switzerland, the research center for the study of glaciers "Glamos" ("Das Schweizerische Gletschermessnetz") is studying this problem.Its scientists have long calculated that by the end of this century the ice fields in Switzerland will decrease by 80-90%, and it will not be possible to avoid a catastrophe, even if the warming process stops.

In July 2019

Interesting fact: The glaciers of the Swiss Alps are the main source of fresh water for most European rivers, including the Rhine and Rhone.

Mount Matterhorn - one of the most recognizable peaks in the world left without snow and ice Glacier of the canton Graubünden at the summit of Piz Pali (Swiss Alps)

The loss of ice areas can lead to major problems related to the use of water resources. Not only will several countries be deprived of a source of clean drinking water at once, so problems with electricity generation will begin, because melt water is involved in production processes.

Disastrously rapid decline in ice area in the canton of Grigioni (Swiss Alps) Glacier condition in the Bernina mountain range 100 years apart (Swiss Alps)

The state of the glacier in the Bernina mountain range 100 years apart (Swiss Alps). © Collection of the Society for Environmental Research, by Sylvia Hamberger.

But that's not all, the picturesque slopes of the Alps and powerful ice fields attract tourists like a magnet, and this is a considerable income for the treasury of the country. Plus, the melting of glaciers will lead to an increase in the degree of avalanche danger in high mountain regions.

Glaciers have become a favorite destination for excursions

The descent of avalanches over the centuries-old history has done a lot of troubles, which are said to be almost daily finds in places of ice melting. Retreating glaciers reveal tragic secrets. Lately, on the slopes, many scraps of clothing, parts of equipment and even fragments of the bodies of the dead have been found on the slopes, which had been under a cover of ice for decades.

Unfortunately, not only glaciers are disappearing on our land. Scientists predict that soon on the planet we will not see many interesting places that nature and humanity have created.

Popular by topic