The Great Aletsch is among Europe's biggest glaciers, stretching 23 km through the Swiss Alps. Despite its size and majesty, this mighty river of ice could almost vanish in the lifetimes of people born today, as a result of climate change. No reporter narration.
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The Great Aletsch is among Europe's biggest glaciers, coiling 23 km through the Swiss Alps. Despite its size and majesty, this mighty river of ice could almost vanish in the lifetimes of people born today because of climate change. The glacier is 900 metres thick at one point but it's retreated about 3 km since 1870 and that pace is quickening, as with many other glaciers around the globe. The melting ice is feeding more water into the oceans and raising world sea levels. The Great Aletsch glacier, the biggest in the Alps and visible from space, is under threat from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from factories, power plants and cars that are blamed for global warming. For glaciers from the Andes to Alaska, rising temperatures mean that a greater volume of ice is lost from the summer melt than the amount replenished by ice formation in wintertime. The Aletsch flows downhill at about 180 metres a year. The World Glacier Monitoring Service says "the rates of early 21st-century mass loss are without precedent on a global scale" at least since measurements began around 1850. The United Nations' panel of climate scientists says sea levels are set to rise by between 26 and 82 cm by the late 21st century, after a gain of about 20 cm since 1900, partly fed by water from melting glaciers.