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Austria's glaciers 'could vanish by 2050'

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Austria's glaciers 'could vanish by 2050'
The Pasterze is the longest glacier in Austria. Photo: Foto-webcam.eu
12:33 CET+01:00
Austrian geologists have warned that the country's glaciers melted faster this year than ever before and predict that all, including the massive Pasterze glacier, will have vanished by the year 2050.

It follows the latest results from this year's measurement of the glaciers which showed that the Pasterze, which lies directly beneath the Grossglockner mountain, shrunk by an incredible 10m this year - more even than in the record summer of 2003.

And as well as losing 10m of its length, the Pasterze also ended up almost 2m thinner across its entire length, the highest recorded loss since the country's Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG) started taking records.

The loss of the glaciers would change the supply of drinking and irrigation water in areas where they were found, and also lead to more falling rocks and have a devastating effect on many parts of the ski industry.

"With an ice thickness at the most around 200m and a loss of around 5m a year, it's only to be expected that the Pasterze would have completely vanished by 2050," glacier expert Bernhard Hynek said. 

The main reason is the high temperatures of recent years caused by global warming.

"In the period between 1969 and 1998 the average loss in thickness was around 0,65m, but between 1998 and 2012 it was more than twice as much at around 1.41m," Hynek added. 

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