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Swiss Glaciers Have Lost 10% Of Their Volume In The Last Two Years

Swiss glaciers have lost 10% of their volume in two years, a report has found. The analysis from the Swiss Academy of Sciences have credited climate change as the reasoning behind the accelerated melting. 

The scientists have claimed that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the unusually hot summers and winters with low snow levels that we’ve experienced in recent years. The overall hotter temperatures have led to glaciers all over the world experiencing accelerated melting. 

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According to the report, the volume lost in the Swiss glaciers between the summers of 2022 and 2023 equates to the volume lost between 1960 and 1990. 

The analysis also found that 4% of Switzerland’s total glacier volume disappeared last year, which marks the second biggest annual decline on record. The largest decline on record was in 2022 with a 6% drop. 

Experts have also stopped measuring certain glaciers and the amount of ice it’s lost due to the fact that their decline has been so rapid. Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland (Glamos), which keeps track of 176 glaciers, just recently stopped recording data for the St. Annafirn glacier in the central Swiss canton of Uri due to the fact that it’s mostly melted at this point. 

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Matthias Huss, the head of Glamos, stated:

“We just had some dead ice left. It’s a combination of climate change that makes such extreme events more likely, and the very bad combination of meteorological extremes. If we continue at this rate … we will see every year such bad years.” 

Small glaciers are disappearing from ice loss, and in order to stop these glaciers from melting, carbon emissions and the burning of fossil fuels must be halted. However, Huss stated that even if the world managed to “keep warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre industrial levels,” only one third of the glacier volume in Switzerland will remain. 

“All the small glaciers will be gone anyway, and the big glaciers will be much smaller. There will be some ice in the highest regions of the Alps and some glaciers that we can show to our grandchildren,” Huss stated.

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Doomsday Glacier In Antarctica Melting Rapidly, Global Sea Levels Likely To Rise

The Doomsday Glacier in Antarctica, specifically known as the Thwaites Glacier, is currently melting in ways that scientists were not expecting, which could potentially lead to its rapid collapse, and an acceleration of global sea levels rising.

Ancient 15,000-Year-Old Viruses Appear In Melting Glacier Ice

Century-old moss that has been frozen away in the depths of a Tibetan Glacier has melted to reveal ancient viruses, giving scientists a real glimpse into the organisms that lived tens of thousands of years ago on Earth, as well as the history of their ecosystems.

“The melting has also created some concerns about ancient viruses coming back to haunt us. Melting will not only lead to the loss of those ancient, archived microbes and viruses, but also release them to the environment in the future,” microbiologist Zhi-Ping Zhong wrote in a new study.

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Scientists luckily have access to technology that can keep the ice samples completely sterilized, which makes it easier to work with when it comes to analyzing what exactly is in the ice. Recently, scientists identified dozens of 15,000-year-old viruses from the Guliya ice cap of the Tibetan Plateau.

“These glaciers were formed gradually, and along with dust and gases, many, many viruses were also deposited in that ice. These microbes potentially represent those in the atmosphere at the time of their deposit.”

“These are viruses that would have thrived in extreme environments, with signatures of genes that help them infect cells in cold environments – just surreal genetic signatures for how a virus is able to survive in extreme conditions,” said microbiologist Matthew Sullivan, who also worked on the study.

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When the scientists compared the genetic sequence of the recent discovery they found that a majority of the viruses present in the ice core samples were bacteria that infect Methylobacterium; this classifies the group of bacteria responsible for the methane cycle of ice in a glacier.

These types of bacteria are typically found in plant or soil habitats, which indicates to the researchers that the viruses likely were deposited in the ice through dust particles that lifted from soil tens of thousands of years ago.

“These frozen viruses likely originate from soil or plants and facilitate nutrient acquisition for their hosts.”

“We know very little about viruses and microbes in these extreme environments, and what is actually there,” says Earth scientist Lonnie Thompson.

“How do bacteria and viruses respond to climate change? What happens when we go from an ice age to a warm period like we’re in now?”