Hundreds of mourners gathered Sunday to commemorate the loss of yet another European glacier.
Dressed in mourning clothes, they hiked for hours in the Glarus Alps in eastern Switzerland to reach the remnants of the Pizol glacier at 2,600 meters above sea level.
The glacier has lost more than 80% of its volume since 2006.
“I have climbed up here countless times,” Matthias Huss, a glaciologist at ETH Zurich university, told the mourners. “It is like the dying of a good friend.”
Last month, About 100 people, including Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir, held a similar ceremony for 700-year-old Okjokull, the first Icelandic glacier lost to climate change.
“We can’t save the Pizol glacier anymore. … Let’s do everything we can, so that we can show our children and grandchildren a glacier here in Switzerland a hundred years from now,” Huss told the gathering.
His call came just two days after millions around the world went on a strike for climate change, inspired by 16-year-old Swedish activist Greta Thunberg.
The funeral was organized by the activist group Swiss Association for Climate Protection which has collected more than 100,000 signatures to launch an initiative demanding the country reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050.
Researchers have found that burning of the rainforest in southwestern Amazonia (the Brazilian, Peruvian and Bolivian Amazon) may increase the melting of tropical glaciers in the Andes, South America.
For the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, researcher Newton de Magalhães Neto and colleagues from Rio de Janeiro State University, Brazil, modelled the possible effect of biomass burning in the Amazon Basin on the Bolivian Zongo Glacier using data collected between 2000 and 2016 on fire events, the movement of smoke plumes, precipitation and glacier melting.
They found that aerosols from biomass burning, such as black carbon, can be transported by wind to tropical Andean glaciers.
There they are deposited in snow and have the potential to increase glacier melting as snow that is darkened by black carbon or dust particles reflects less light (reduced albedo).
Focusing their analyses on the years 2007 and 2010 when fire seasons were the most critical for the Amazon Basin, the authors investigated the snow albedo reduction due to black carbon alone and black carbon in the presence of previously reported quantities of dust.
Their model showed that black carbon or dust alone had the potential to increase annual glacier melting by three to four per cent; or by six per cent when both were present.
If dust concentrations were high, dust alone had the potential to increase annual melting by 11-13 per cent and by 12-14 per cent in the presence of black carbon.
The findings suggest that the impact of Amazon biomass burning depends on the dust content in snow.
Pressure related to global food demand may result in further expansion of Brazilian agriculture and deforestation, resulting in enhanced black carbon and CO2 emissions that may impact Andean glaciers.
In September 2019, seven South American countries have agreed measures to protect the Amazon river basin, amid concerns over fires in the world’s largest tropical forest.
Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Peru and Suriname signed a pact, setting up a disaster response network and satellite monitoring.
The Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming, and 60 per cent of it is located in Brazil.
The number of fires between January and August 2019 is double that of the same period last year, according to the country’s National Institute for Space Research (Inpe).
Several international retailers have said they are suspending purchases of Brazilian leather because of the links between cattle ranching and the fires devastating parts of the Amazon rainforest.