April 8, 2012

Careser Glacier Breaking Up, Italy

Posted by Mauri Pelto

The last year with a significant positive balance on the glacier was 1977, in the majority of years since 1980 the glacier has had no accumulation zone, which equates to an accumulation area ratio of zero (Carturan and Seppi, 2007). This translates to a glacier with no income of snow, but still plenty of losses via melting, which means the glacier cannot survive, and of course will drive the retreat (Pelto, 2010). Luca Carturan, University of Padova, provides both a chart of mass balance and a comparison of the glacier from 1967 to 2009, red bars indicate negative mass balance. The glacier has the longest mass balance record of any Italian glacier and the data is submitted annually to the World Glacier Monitoring Service. Carturan et al (2012) examine the mass balance distribution in more detail, in their Figure 2 the glacier is separated from its most western appendage (W), but the center part (C) is still connected to the main section (M) of the glacier, red dots are the around glacier watershed. . The images below are a series of Landsat images from 1999, 2003, 2009 and 2011. The red arrows indicate two narrow ice connections that were intact between the west-center-main part of glacier in 1999 and 2003. By 2009 the west section is not connected, and by 2011 the center connection is also gone. The deeper blue color of the glacier indicates a lack of snowcover, snowcover can be seen on the glaciers north of the ridge above the Careser Glacier. Careser Glacier fits the pattern of thinning, lack of accumulation zone and separation as seen at Presena Glacier, Dosde Glacier and Cavagnoli Glacier