Art and Science - RECEDING GLACIERS I and RECEDING GLACIERS II
MORTERATSCH, SWITZERLAND, MARCH 2014
I had just returned from Antarctica and my senses were still enchanted by the magnetism of its formidable glaciers. Unapproachable, their constant cracking and crumbling an extraordinary spectacle and a striking reminder of their demise.
I was finally able to get close here, where their power has been muffled but their magnetism still reigns. To touch their ancient crystal ice is spellbinding. I placed my symbols. For a frozen moment the glacier stood still in time.
A DEEPER LOOK
Since the preindustrial era, the temperature in Switzerland has risen by almost 2°C, twice the global average. At this rate, half of the 1,500 Alpine glaciers – including the majestic Aletsch Glacier, UNESCO heritage – will disappear in the next 30 years. And if nothing is done to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, all the glaciers in Switzerland and in Europe risk melting almost completely by the end of the century.
With the melting of the glaciers, Switzerland is losing an important water reserve, which according to estimates could supply the population of Switzerland with fresh water for 60 years.
But technology can help us. The Morteratsch Glacier continues to diminish at the rate of 40 meters per year, and experts predict it may have entirely disappeared by the year 2100. A new pilot project has been presented, aiming at slowing the melting of glaciers through new technology which is climate neutral and respects the environment: a huge amount of water produced by the thaw would be collected at a high altitude, recycled in the form of snow and then returned to the glacier.