"Because of the heat, it now also melts at night"

“Because of the heat, it now also melts at night”


NOS . News

  • Helen Dehnes

    Italy reporter

  • Helen Dehnes

    Italy reporter

“The day before, I was also in danger.” Christian Ferrari stood near the Marmolada glacier on Saturday 2 July. After a day I cut off a piece. Eleven people died

Ferrari is president of the Glacier Commission of the Federation of Mountaineers in Trento, northern Italy. The Volunteer Club, along with local authorities, monitors the glaciers in the area and is responsible for the safety of the hiking trails.

warmer than usual

Experts quickly agreed on the cause of the broken ice mass in Marmolada. It’s been warmer than normal in the Alps for weeks, warming the rocks under the glacier and creating a stream of meltwater inside the glacier. “There is then heat stress that can lead to breakdown,” Ferrari explains.

Unusual warmth is not accidental. The average temperature in the Alps has risen by two degrees over the past century as a result of climate change. Relatively strong increase compared to other regions.

But it is impossible for Ferrari to say whether last week’s ice disaster was directly due to climate change. “It’s like saying that humans are responsible for the collapse of the Marmolada. Glaciers and mountains are what they are because they are constantly collapsing. The rocks you see at the bottom of the mountain were once on top. They always are.”

All glaciers are melting

Reporter Helen Dehaines visited the Brissanella glacier in northern Italy with Christian Ferrari. In the video he explains the consequences of climate change on the glacier:

Glacier disaster in northern Italy: ‘Bad year for glaciers’

Mirko Dzulian, director of a mountain hut near the Brissanilla Glacier, watches sadly. “We used to have a big snow storm every month, even in summer. But it hasn’t snowed in eight years now. The glacier is gray, and it lacks the freshness of snow.”

Besides the mountain hut manager, Delossian is also an experienced mountaineer. He evades the question of whether increasing temperatures are making mountain climbing more dangerous. “Just because a disaster happened in Marmolada doesn’t mean it’s going to happen everywhere in the Alps. You can still climb just fine here.”

What is important, he says, is to keep a close eye on the temperature. “It has the most important role in expeditions, in connection with landslides and falling rocks.” In any case, customers are always advised to leave as soon as possible. “Once the sun comes up, temperatures rise, everything starts to melt and the situation changes. But this is nothing new: it has always been a habit for mountaineers to leave early.”

Can the Marmolada disaster be prevented? Are there marks on the wall and should action have been taken accordingly? The Italian public prosecutor began the investigation this past week. “But even if the disaster could have been avoided, it is not certain that there was negligence,” the attorney general told local media. He does not want the families of the victims to believe that the culprit can be found.

Christian Ferrari asserts that there is definitely no culprit. According to him, this assumption shows little knowledge of glaciers. “To think that you can control every crack in a glacier is like thinking you can control every turn on a highway. It’s possible. But you need an agent for every turn. It’s impossible.”

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