Rhone Glacier Covered in Blankets to Slow Melting

Jul 7, 2013 1 comments

The Rhone Glacier in the Swiss Alps is one of the oldest know glaciers in the Alps, and an important one ‘cause it gives rise to the Rhone River – a major river of Europe –, and is also one of the primary contributors to Lake Geneva. Because of climate change and rising global temperatures, the glacier has retreated dramatically over the last 120 years, shrinking by more than 1300 meters and leaving back a track of naked stone.

Every summer, environmentalists in Switzerland take up the task of covering the Rhone Glacier with miles of white blankets to try and minimize the melting. The innovative method of protecting the ice draws hordes of visitors who come to witness the ancient ice from an entirely unique perspective.


Photo credit: MSN

Researchers have been trying various tricks to protect the glacier. In 2008, a geography professor accompanied by his students installed a 50 feet by 10 feet windscreen which they hoped would trap cold winds that blow down off the mountains and keep them over the Rhone Glacier.

Being one of the most accessible glaciers in the Swiss Alps, Rhone Glacier is already a popular tourist destination. Each year, a 100-meter blue ice tunnel with an ice chamber is carved out of the glacier for visitors to walk through. The ice grotto moves along with the glacier, at approximately 10 cm per day downstream. Due to this reason, each year, the tunnel has to be rearranged.

Eight thousand years ago, the glacier was the largest in Europe with arms that reached all the way to Lyon, in France. Now, it is only the fifth largest glacier in Switzerland, and experts foresee the day, probably in this century, when the glacier, all six miles of it, will melt away to nothing.


Photo credit: MSN


Photo credit: MSN


Photo credit: MSN


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Photo credit


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via MSN


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