The eternal ice has melted – too much. A glacier disappeared in the Bavarian Alps this summer. This means that there are only four glaciers left in Germany.
Munich – Climate change is unstoppable. The glaciers in the European Alps have receded massively in recent years. The development in the Bavarian Alps is dramatic. A glacier has now disappeared after the hot summer of 2022. The southern Schneeferner has lost its status as a glacier, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences announced on Monday.
Glaciers in Germany disappeared: Southern Schneeferner on the Zugspitze loses glacier status
“Due to the low thickness of the ice, no more ice movement can be expected, so that the southern Schneeferner is no longer considered an independent glacier,” the statement said. In most places, the ice is no longer even two meters thick.
Even at the deepest point, the ice is now less than six meters thick. For comparison: in 2018 it was about ten meters. At the same time, the glacier area has halved to less than one hectare since 2018. The researchers’ gloomy prognosis: the remaining ice will melt completely in the next one to two years. The measurements would therefore be stopped at the southern Schneeferner.
Glaciers in Germany threatened with melting
In Germany there are only four glaciers that are also threatened by melting:
- Northern Schneeferner (Zugspitze)
- Höllentalferner (Zugspitze)
- Blue Ice (Berchtesgaden Alps)
- Watzmann Glacier (Berchtesgaden Alps)
Glaciers in Germany: dramatic forecasts by researchers
According to the latest Bavarian Glacier Report from 2021, the Alpine glaciers are witnesses to climate change. The last Bavarian glacier could already have disappeared by the early 2030s. “The northern Schneeferner on the Zugspitze alone melts almost 250 liters of water every 30 seconds,” say the researchers. There is no longer any hope for the glaciers in Austria either.
The researchers emphasize that glaciers take on important tasks in the water balance by supplying mountain streams and rivers with meltwater even during longer dry periods in summer. As a result, ecosystems are preserved. In addition, the ice armor protects unstable mountain flanks and thus prevents slipping. Experts were already warning of a dramatic development of the Bavarian glaciers in 2020.
Glaciers are large masses of mainly snow, firn and ice, which mostly flow slowly from mountains towards the valley. Only masses that move at least in essential parts are called glaciers. Most of the glaciers that exist today were formed during the last ice age, around 15,000 years ago. (ml)