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Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting V: Grossglockner, Austria, 2005

Pasterze Glacier: photographed Sept. 2005 and Sept. 2006.

“In the tiny Alpine town of Heiligenblut (German for “Holy Blood”) they have been watching their glacier melt for years.  Romans, medieval gold miners and a Danish prince who died while clutching a stolen vial of Christ’s blood, are all a part of the town’s history.  Now the streets are filled with tourists.  They come, among other reasons, to see Austria’s biggest glacier, the Pasterze, drag itself out from under Austria’s most picturesque mountain, the Grossglockner . . .

“The Pasterze offers many incontrovertible images of global warming, and whatever that term may mean politically, it is impossible to see evidence of the Pasterze’s melting and then say with a straight face that the planet is not heating up.  For example, there is the monorail built in the 1960s to carry people down to the lip of the glacier.  Now instead of alighting directly onto ice, visitors get out of the monorail and begin a 20-minute trek down to where the glacier lies today. There are a series of forlorn signs on the way down, reading: ‘This Is Where the Glacier Stood: 1968,’ ‘This Is Where the Glacier Stood: 1975,’ ‘This Is Where the Glaciers Stood: 1980,’ etcetera…

“Atop the monorail station, a young scientist named Michael Avian is perched with surveyor’s tools and a laptop.  Avian is part of group from the University of Graz that takes more than an anecdotal interest in the melting glacier.  Avian and others on a team led by Dr. Gerhard Karl Lieb make painstaking measurements of the glacier’s movements each year . . .  The melting of the Pasterze Glacier has accelerated dramatically in the past six to seven years, the average rate doubling in the past three years, according to Dr. Lieb.  This amounts to a melt of as much as 30 meters (about 100 feet) in a given year . . .”  (From an article written for Tokion magazine in February 2006 by Sayler/Morris.)

Additional reference for the extent and potential human impact of melting glaciers due to climate change can be found in the Stern Review (cf. Chapter 3) and in this 2005 Nature article.

Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting II: Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria, 2005

Glacial, Icecap and Parmafrost Melting VI: Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria, 2005

Found image

Glacial, Icecap and Parmafrost Melting VIII: Margaritzen Resevoir, Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria, 2005

Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting IX: Pasterze Glacier, Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria, 2005

Found image

Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting XIV: Pasterze Glacier, Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria, 2006

Glacial, Icecap and Permafrost Melting X: Pasterze Glacier, Hohe Tauern National Park, Austria, 2005