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Portions Of Swiss-Italian Border May Be Redrawn To Reflect Changes In Glaciers and Snowfields

Following May’s approval by the Italian parliament, the Swiss parliament will soon vote on a draft law to redraw some high-altitude sections of the frontier Alps border between Switzerland and Italy due to “radical changes” in snowfields and glaciers over the past century.

Morteratsch
Recession of the Morteratsch Glacier, Switzerland (just north of the Italian border) between 1985 and 2007. Source: UNEP. Click to enlarge.

The changes, which were recommended by the Italian Military Geographic Institute and Switzerland’s Office of Topography after four years of study, are required because the border in that area is determined by the watershed: specifically, the snow ridges along some of the area’s mountains, as well as glacier shrinkage. Maximum border shift is expected to be in the range of 100 to 150 meters at some locations. The border between the two countries was first established in 1861.

Italy had previously reached a similar agreement with Austria, and is in talks with France about proposed changes in their shared border.

According to the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) in Zurich, more than half of Switzerland’s glacier mass and 40% of Europe’s glacier mass has disappeared since 1850. Europe’s southernmost glaciers are shrinking more quickly than those in the north, with glaciers in Spain’s Pyrenees mountains having declined by nine-tenths in the last hundred years.

A joint report issued last year by WGMS and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) concluded that “the ongoing trend of worldwide and rapid, if not accelerating, glacier shrinkage on the century time scale is most likely of a non-periodic nature, and may lead to the deglaciation of large parts of many mountain ranges in the coming decades.

—Jack Rosebro

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Comments

Henry Gibson

Italy decided to not generate nuclear power and would rather have much higher CO2 electricity. That fortunately does not stop them from buying cheap nuclear power from France when it is available.

Nuclear power has the ability to far more quickly eliminate all CO2 releasing power plants than any other technology. It can also start to remove CO2 from the air by providing energy to pump water to cause more plant growth. It also can supply cheap heat to desalinate water.

It also can supply cheap heat to eliminate the need for fuels to heat New York City and other cities with undergound reactors. Such reactors could cause no surface damage even if they were able to fail like Chernobyl did.

Nuclear reactors built for the production of heat alone can be far less costly to build and to operate, and they have no super high steam pressures. There will be deadly failures of the heating pipes from time to time just as people are scalded in bath tubs.

What has the rain and snowfall in these areas been. Is it higher temperatures or lack of rain and snow.

Nuclear power could be used to pump water to the glaciers in the winter to build them up and expand them to prevent their loss. White snow and ice reflect solar energy. ..HG..

Roger Pham

@Henry,
Two wrongs does not make it right! Trying to remedy the wrongs of fossil fuel by the use of nuclear energy with its own apocalyptic risks and environmental risks does not make a good solution.

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