April 19, 2024

Glacier Loss Day Alert: Unprecedented Melt Rates Shatter Records

By doing this, the modification in the volume of the Hintereisferner is kept track of in real-time. Innsbruck glaciologist Annelies Voordendag led the measurement on-site at the Hintereisferner, the results of the scientists examinations have now been published as a highlighted post in the journal The Cryosphere.
The terrestrial laser scanners container real estate at Hintereisferner in October 2022. Credit: Eva Fessler
” Already in the early summer of 2022, it became clear that the day when the ice the glacier acquired during the winter season starts disappearing would be reached really quickly. We call this day the Glacier Loss Day or GLD for short. It can be compared to the Earth Overshoot Day, which marks the date when we utilize up more natural deposits than the Earth can renew in a year,” explains Annelies Voordendag.
Monitoring a glaciers volume and mass changes on an everyday basis offers a quick assessment of its condition in a given year.
Observing glaciers health
When the GLD gets here, it suggests the glacier is no longer in balance with the natural conditions for that year. The earlier the GLD occurs, the more time is left in the remaining summer that the glacier likely will lose volume and therefore, mass.
The “Ice and Climate” group has actually been working for several years in the “outdoor lab” on the Hintereisferner in the Ötztal. Credit: Rainer Prinz
” We track the daily volume changes with the automated terrestrial laser scanning setup overlooking the glacier and obtain the day that the mass acquired throughout winter has actually been lost,” says Voordendag. In 2022 the GLD was measured on the 23rd of June. In the two previous years, Glacier Loss Day was reached only in the middle of August.
In years with negative balance extremes– such as 2003 and 2018– this day was not reached until the end of July.
Even if not every summertime in the future will necessarily resemble the one in 2022, the pattern is clear for the glaciologists, due to the fact that the developments lie outside regular variation ranges: “These are clear signals of anthropogenic climate change. The effects of our greenhouse gas emissions are currently striking us hard today,” includes glaciologist Rainer Prinz from the “Ice and Climate” working group in Innsbruck.
The future forecasts of advancement do not present a motivating outlook either. Just half of the Hintereisferner will be left in 10 to 20 years,” the group sums up in their study. These are clear environment change signals that are due to anthropogenic international warming and the repercussions of our greenhouse gas emissions, which are already totally affecting us today.”
Reference: “Brief communication: The Glacier Loss Day as a sign of a record-breaking unfavorable glacier mass balance in 2022″ by Annelies Voordendag, Rainer Prinz, Lilian Schuster and Georg Kaser, 29 August 2023, The Cryosphere.DOI: 10.5194/ tc-17-3661-2023.

View of Hintereisferner on 23 June 2018 (left) and 23 June 2022 (right). 2018 is thought about a bad year for the mass balance of the glacier. In 2022, however, the circumstance was even considerably even worse, as there was hardly any protective snow cover left already in June. Credit: www.foto-webcam.eu
In the summertime of 2022, one of Tyrols many extensive glaciers experienced its most considerable loss of mass on record. Last year, the Hintereisferner in Tyrol, Austria, reached its Glacier Loss Day (GLD) earlier than ever before.
Found deep within the Tyrolean Ötztal, the Hintereisferner glacier has actually been under thorough observation for over a century. Records tracing its mass balance have been consistently maintained because 1952, ranking it amongst the most extensively investigated glaciers in the Alps. For many years, it has actually been main to glacier and climate studies at the University of Innsbruck.
Because 2016, the researchers have actually also been surveying the glacier with a worldwide unique system: the surface of the glacier is scanned daily with a terrestrial laser scanner returning the glacier surface area elevation modifications.

2018 is considered a bad year for the mass balance of the glacier. Located deep within the Tyrolean Ötztal, the Hintereisferner glacier has actually been under thorough observation for over a century. For years, it has been central to glacier and climate research studies at the University of Innsbruck.
” Already in the early summertime of 2022, it ended up being clear that the day when the ice the glacier acquired throughout the winter starts melting away would be reached extremely quickly. In the 2 previous years, Glacier Loss Day was reached only in the middle of August.