January 14, 2010

Forni Glacier, Italy Retreat

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Forni Glacier is the largest valley glacier in Italy. It is currently 5 km long and has retreated 2.5 kilometers since its Little Ice Age Maximum. It is in the Cevedale Group, Alps and part of the Parco Nazionale dello Stelvio. In this image the Little Ice Age terminal moraine is the prominent sharp debris ridge in the foreground, twenty years ago the glacier descended beyond the bottom of the image. The Italian Glaciologic Commission has observed and reported its annual terminus change over the last 30 years to the World Glacier Monitoring Service. The glacier began a sustained retreat in 1988, after advancing a small distance in the 1970-1987 period. As reported by the IGC to the WGMS from 1990-1995 Forni Glacier retreated 290 m, between 1995 and 2000 130 m, and from 2000-2005 115 m. Using IKONOS (Bellingeri and Zini, 2006 stereoscopic high resolution imagery linear retreat of the glaciers tongue was established as 520 meters for Forni Glacier in the 1981-2003 period. The glacier was found to have lost an average of 15 m in thickness in this period, 60 m near the terminus. The glacier as seen below above the key icefalls has a substantial consistent accumulation zone. It is the terminus tongue below the icefall that is at risk with current climate. A close up view of the terminus illustrates the region that has been deglaciated in the last 20 years, there is virtually no green vegetation evident in this region. The lower section of the glacier is rapidly downwasting still.