An aerial photo taken on July 16, 2010 in the French Alps shows Mont-Blanc, which sits on the three-way border between France, Italy and Switzerland. (Photo: PHILIPPE DESMAZES, AFP / Getty Images)
Italian authorities are closing roads after experts warn that a large part of a glacier is in danger of collapsing due to climate change.
An impressive 8.8 million cubic feet of ice could come off the Planpincieux glacier in the Alps, experts at Fondazione Montagna Sicura (Safe Mountain Foundation) said, according to a report. statement from local authorities. The glacier is located at the Grande Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc massif, which stretches across the borders of Italy, France and Switzerland and contains the highest peak in Western Europe.
The Safe Mountain Foundation has been studying glacier movement since 2013 and noted "an increase in speed," according to the statement. The glacier is changing at an average peak speed between 19.6 to 23.6 inches per day.
Although movement is being monitored, there is no way to predict exactly when a breakdown might occur, nor is there a system to activate alarms when it occurs.
In response to the findings, Courmayeur Mayor Stefano Miserocchi decided to close two roads to Val Ferret and Rochefort and to evacuate buildings in the surrounding area.
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"Public safety is a priority for the municipal administration," Miserocchi said in a statement. "These phenomena testify once again that the mountain is in a phase of strong change due to climate factors, so it is particularly vulnerable. In this case, it is a temperate glacier, particularly sensitive to high temperatures."
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned world leaders about the risk of glacier collapse during his speech to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday, saying to them "it is an alarm that we cannot be indifferent."
The news comes soon after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a special report detailing the impact global warming had on glaciers and ice sheets. Melting glaciers may not only contribute to sea level rise, but may also pose a threat to humans through landslides, avalanches, rock falls and floods, according to the report. Press release that accompanied the report.
"Glaciers, snow, ice and permafrost are declining and will continue to do so," the scientists said in the press release. "The smaller glaciers found, for example, in Europe, East Africa, the tropical Andes and Indonesia, are expected to lose more than 80% of their current ice mass by 2100 under high emission scenarios."
Contribution: Associated Press
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