2013-05-29. As Glaciers Melt, Alpine Mountains Lose Their Glue, Threatening Swiss Village

posted May 30, 2013, 8:45 AM by Alan Gould

For GSS Climate Change chapter 8. Excerpt:  ...Grindelwald, population 3,800, lies in the foothills of a wall of Alpine peaks, rising to more than 13,000 feet. It is also home to two of Switzerland’s largest glaciers, the Upper and Lower Grindelwald Glaciers, which for millenniums have snaked their way through Alpine gorges toward the town. With global warming, the glaciers are melting. Once stretching to the edge of town, they now end high in the mountains. Moreover, their greenish glacial water is forming lakes. In summer, when the melting accelerates, floodwaters threaten the area. ...the shrinking of the glaciers removes a kind of buttress supporting parts of the mountains, menacing the region with rock slides. Grindelwald stands as a stark example of what is happening these days to Switzerland’s glaciers, and there are more than a hundred, large and small. ...the warming reduces the effect of permafrost that once acted as a sort of glue binding together the mass of the mountains. ...a chunk of the Eiger amounting to about 900,000 cubic yards fell from the east face, causing the cloud of rock dust.... http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/30/world/europe/in-swiss-alps-glacial-melting-unglues-mountains.html; John Tagliabue, New York Times.