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Austria's glaciers retreat 'more than ever'

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Austria's glaciers retreat 'more than ever'
File photo shows a view of the Pasterze glacier near Heiligenblut. Remains have been found on the Schlatenkees glacier in Tyrol. Photo: ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

Austrian glaciers last year retreated "more than ever", the country's Alpine Club said Friday, as climate change threatens glaciers around the globe.

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On average, 89 Austrian glaciers observed by the organisation have become 28.7 metres (94.2 feet) shorter, compared to 11 metres in 2021, it said in a statement, sounding a "red alert".

"Never before in the history of the Alpine Club's glacier measurement service, which dates back to 1891, has there been a greater loss of glaciers," it said.

"The drastic glacier retreat undoubtedly makes the consequences of the anthropogenic massively intensified climate change clear," it added, warning that glaciers in Austria would disappear at the latest in 2075.

It urged the better protection of glaciers in the ski-mad Alpine nation.

"The touristic development of glacier areas is simply no longer justifiable at a time when the climate crisis is already having an enormous impact on the glaciers," it said.

Half of the Earth's 215,000 glaciers and a quarter of their mass will melt away by the end of the century, according to a study published in the journal Science in January.

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This will happen even if global warming can be capped at 1.5-degrees Celsius, the ambitious Paris Agreement target that many scientists now say is beyond reach, the study said.

Global mean temperature is currently estimated to be increasing by 2.7-degrees Celsius which would result in a near-complete loss of glaciers in Central Europe, Western Canada and the continental United States and New Zealand.

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