September 29, 2011

Cavagnoli Glacier Retreat, Swiss Alps

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Ghiacciaio dei Cavagnoli (Ghiacciaio dei Cavagnöö) drains south into Lago dei Cavagnoli (Lago dei Cavagnöö), which is impounded by a dam that was 111 meters high. This hydropower plant provides 174 MW of power. The glacier itself has separated into five separate ice masses that are each melting quickly away. The Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network has observed the annual retreat of this glacier since 1980. A chart of this retreat from the data of the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network is below. The total retreat of the main ice mass has been 343 meters. The top of the glacier has also been retreating this is a symptom of a glacier that will not survive (Pelto, 2010). The glacier as viewed from below and from directly above in Google Earth Imagery indicates a thin glacier with few crevasses. The five separate ice masses are all indicated by stars. This glacier has no accumulation zone in 2009. This has become a reoccurring pattern for this glacier, and also is a sign of a glacier that cannot survive. This glacier is a small relic of its former mapped extent. when the glacier was a single ice mass. Today the largest ice mass is 0.4 square kilometers and none of the ice masses appear destined for surviving. On the main ice mass there is a meltwater stream from the top to the bottom of the glacier indicating that even the top of the glacier is usually snow free by summer’s end. This glacier is in similar shape to the glaciers in the Rotondo area just to the north