September 3, 2012

Sabbione Glacier Retreat, Italy

Posted by Mauri Pelto

Italy’s mountains have been experiencing a warm summer, rivaling their warmest summer in the last couple of centuries, 2003. The impact on the glaciers will be considerable melting. Here we look at the retreat of the Sabbione Glacier. The glacier drains into Lago Sabbione an artificial lake that in turn drains into Lago Morasco, which is a 29MW hydropower facility. The lake also has good fishing. This glacier in 1988 reached the shore of Lago Sabbione.
In a series of Landsat images from 1988, 2006 and 2010 and a picture from Lago Sabbione in 2007, the retreat from the lake is evident. Tthe 1988 terminus is indicated by a red arrow, the 2010 terminus by a yellow arrow, the new outcrop in the midst of the glacier by a magenta arrow and the outcrop that has reached the margin of the glacier in 2010 a green arrow. The retreat during this period has been 450 meters. of greater concern for the future of the glacier is the emergence of rock outcrops in the midst of the middle portion of the glacier, and smaller ones on the upper glacier. This indicates a glacier that is not in equilibrium lacks a persistent accumulation zone, indicating it will not survive current climate.

The retreat is similar to the losses experienced across Italy from the smaller Dosde Glacier, the larger Forni Glacier and the Presena Glacier, ski area. On the latter on Aug. 12, 2012 from the ski area webcam you can see the attempts to use blankets, grooming and snowmaking to supplement the glacier, which off the ski run is bare ice.