Italy’s glaciers retreated by 40 percent: WWF


Rome: Alpine glaciers in Italy have lost an estimated 40 percent of their area over the last three decades, a recent report released by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has said.

“The situation of glaciers on the Italian side of the Alps is very worrying,” Xinhua news agency on Friday quoted Gianfranco Bologna, scientific director of WWF-Italy and co-author of the report as saying.

The Hot Ice report was unveiled earlier this week, ahead of a crucial United Nations Climate Change Conference due to be held in Paris from November 30 to December 11.

The report suggested that drastic measures should be adopted at the Paris summit to prevent further deterioration of the glaciers in Italy and worldwide.

With respects to the Italian Alps, the report stated glaciers currently cover a total area of about 368 sq kms compared to 609 sq kms in the 1980’s.

Friday’s figures came from the New Italian Glacier Inventory, which was presented at the 19th Alpine Glaciology meeting held in May in Milan.

The figures were compared with the 1989 World Glacier Inventory (WGI) based on data collected in the 1980’s.

The comparison suggested an area reduction of over 39 percent.

Researches said glacier melting is undoubtedly caused by human activities, and the WWF report said, “the extent of interactions between the biosphere and the human species in recent centuries is unprecedented.”

“The scientific community has been coordinating the collection of standardised data about glaciers worldwide since the end of 18th century,” Bologna said.

“We have seen them retreating slowly for over a century, and much more sharply in the last 50 years.”

The melting process is affecting the Arctic and Antarctica the most, but also glaciers around the world, such as in the Himalayas, Patagonia, Alaska, the Ural Mountains, and the Alps.

Global emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2), which is the main greenhouse gas produced by human activities and most responsible for global warming, have indeed risen to 35.3 billion tonnes per year in 2013 from 22.6 billion tonnes in 1990, according to the European Union Emission Database for Global Atmospheric Research (EDGAR).

“On this aspect, we must also emphasise the progressive effect of global warming,” Bologna said.

“Firstly, ice is part of the water cycle. Thus, ice melting affects the availability of water for humans, and the life of the fauna and flora in mountain areas,” the expert said.

“Alpine glaciers specifically give rise to many Italian rivers, including the Po, Italy’s longest river,” Bologna said.

(inputs from IANS)