European Wilderness Society

Slovenia is rapidly losing its last glaciers due to climate change

This year is another sad year for the only two glaciers in Slovenia, again becoming smaller and smaller. In fact, as both of them are smaller than 25 ha, they are technically glacierets rather than glaciers, because of their small size. Glacierets have different properties than glaciers – for example, they no longer move. The smaller one of them, Triglav glacieret that lays under Slovenia’s highest mountain, measures only 0.8 ha this year. It is only a matter of time when it is going to completely disappear due to global warming.

Back in 1955 when the first modern measurement of the Triglav glacier was conducted, it covered an area of about 45 ha. However, due to warmer summers causing more melting and less snowfall each year, the glacier has declined to its present size. While the size of the glacier changes every year, this year’s size was close to the smallest size ever, 0.7 ha. The effects of climate change are also clear from the fact that all ten warmest melting seasons measured are from this century and four out of five of them since 2012.

The death of the glacier is clear also from its ice thickness, being only a few meters thick. Because of the decline in its size, it also split into more parts separated by rocks multiple times. Now, the glacier is black because mineral parts from glacial firm from previous years cover it. Consequently, the black colour even speeds up the melting of the ice.

Skuta glacieret

The other Slovene glacieret under Skuta mountain is the most south-eastern glacier in the Alps. As it lays lower and in the shadows for longer than the Triglav one, it is doing better. Still, the glacieret only measures 1.7 ha and has declined significantly. Since 1900, the Alps have lost about 50% of its ice. However, based on future greenhouse has emission predictions, between 22% and 89% of ice will be further lost by 2100. This also includes glaciers that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage. This rapid glacier decline is also obvious in Austria, very close to Tamsweg. In the National Park Hohe Tauern, glaciers are also melting very fast, including the largest Austrian glacier Pasterze.

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