March 3, 2011

Presena Glacier Italy, Needs a Blanket

Posted by Mauri Pelto

The Presena Ski Resort in Italy utilizes the Presena Glacier for its upper lifts and to extend its season. The warm summer of 2012 has been hard on this glacier. In 2008 this resort followed the example of Stubai, Austria and Les Arcs, France in utilizing an insulating blanket to reduce melting. Presena Glacier has lost a third of its volume since 1993. This led to adoption of wrapping the glacier in a 4 mm thick blanket of polypropylene matieral that in a test at the area reduced melt by 60%. The insulated blanket is apparent particularly along the lift in the image below. In 2012 the areas that were not protected by the blanket or groomed preferentially are evident as bare glacier ice. The insulating blanket is supposed to cover 90,000 square meters. The plan is to leave the blanket in place through the summer until mid-September. The entire glacier lost its snowcover in 2003 and 2005. The lower section of the glacier has separated into several thin sections that are rapidly melting away. In the photograph below the three separate terminus areas that are nearly completely detached from the upper glacier are noted with a T. The Lift (L) goes up the center of the upper glacier this area has lost its snowpack frequently as well by summer’s end in recent years. The Presena Glacier is responding to the warming climate in the same way as other Italian glaciers Forni Glacier and Dosde Glacier, and as the Italian Glacier Committee has noted observing that of glaciers observed in Italy in 2009 95 of the 111 glacier observed are retreating, 11 stationary and two advancing. The mass balance of Italian Glaciers in 2010 was again negative due to the high summer temperatures.