Spain is facing its third heatwave this year. The consequence of the extremely high temperatures is the rapid melting of the Pyrenean glaciers, which are already suffering from climate change. The situation is alarming in the case of the largest ice formation, located at the top of Pico de Aneto.
Recordings by the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology, which belongs to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), show that between 1981 and 2022, climate change took away about two-thirds of the Pico de Aneto glacier. Currently, the glacier is only half a square kilometer.
– The lake, which was created in 2012, has been gradually expanding since then. In turn, the reservoir, which was very small a year ago, has now become as large as the one in 2012, said researcher Nacho Lopez, who monitors the state of Spanish glaciers. – Just a few years ago we said that the glacier had about 30 years of “life”. And now, with the development of climate change, we expect that in ten years we will no longer be talking about it as a glacier. Certainly some ice will remain there, but most of it will be gone, he added.
It turns out that the average thickness of the ice on the glacier has decreased by about 30 meters. Melting accelerated the most in 2021 and 2022, which were exceptionally hot in Spain. It is likely that this year will also be record-breaking in terms of temperature.
The same can be true of the Alps
For the scientist, the current situation in the Pyrenees is a harbinger of what may happen to the Alps in the future.
– At the moment, the Pyrenees are the last mountains in southern Europe where there is ice. In fact, what we see here is a preview of what could happen in other mountains, such as the Alps, in a few decades. The Alps are still much higher and at a different latitude, so they still hold the ice masses, although of course they are receding very quickly. If global warming continues, they will be in the same situation in a few decades. That’s why it’s so important to study the glaciers in the Pyrenees, because it allows us to understand what can happen,’ he added.
Main photo source: Reuters