July 7, 2011

Chüebodengletscher and Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo, Switzerland nearly gone

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Chüebodenhorn is 3,070 meter high in the Lepontine Alps. The Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo lies at the foot of its north face and Chüebodengletscher is on its south side. Chüebodengletscher is confined to a small cirque, and currently ends in a lake . In several recent years including 2010 the glacier lost all of its snowcover. The glacier is currently 500 meters long and has an elevation range of 75 meters. The lake which fringes the glacier will turn into a circular alpine lake as the glacier melts away. At present the crescent shaped lake is 140 meters wide. The annual layers in this glacier are evident much like tree rings, that the are all emergent at the surface indicates that all the snow and firn that is supposed to cover most of a glacier at the end of the summer, has been lost from all of the glacier. There are at least 75 annual layers evident. The youngest layer (y) is at the top of the glacier and oldest (o) at the bottom.
Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo is a thin slope glacier. This glacier also has a short elevation span of 80 meters from the terminus to its head in a distance of 500 meters. The glacier is a slope glacier that has little apparent thickness. The glacier will be lost faster than the thicker Chüebodengletscher. Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo also has lost all of its snowcover, and without a persistent and consistent accumulation zone it cannot survive. These two glaciers are losing mass like many neighboring such as the large Gries Glacier monitored by the In the graph below From the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network the cumulative mass loss of Gries Glacier has been 20 meters. Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network. This mass loss of Swiss Glaciers led to 86 of the 95 glacier observed to retreat, while six were stationary and three advanced. The lack of an accumulation zone indicates that the glaciers will follow the path of Presena Glacier and Dosde Glacier unlike Oberaar Glacier which retains an accumulation zone.