The Swiss glaciers have experienced a second extreme year after 2022. In both years combined, the glacier volume shrank by ten percent, as reported by the Swiss Commission for Cryosphere Observation of the Academy of Natural Sciences.

This means that as much ice was lost within two years as in total between 1960 and 1990. “Switzerland’s glaciers are melting faster and faster. The acceleration is dramatic,” said the academy. The reasons are the very little snow in the winter of 2022/23 and the high temperatures in the summer.

Some glacier tongues have collapsed and smaller glaciers have disappeared. Even in southern Valais and the Engadine, where glaciers at more than 3,200 meters were actually still intact, snowmelt of several meters was measured this year.

Ice thickness has shrunk on average by around three meters

On average, the ice thickness of all glaciers has shrunk by around three meters. In the Bernese Oberland and parts of Valais – such as the Great Aletsch Glacier – it was around two meters. There was more snow there last winter. The data comes from the Swiss Glacier Measurement Network (Glamos), in which the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH) is involved, among others.

Particularly in the second half of February there was less snow than ever before at this time since measurements began. On average, snow depths were only 30 percent of the long-term average during this period. There were also low records above 2,000 meters in the second half of February, at more than half of the automatic stations with measurement series that began at least 25 years ago. Because it was very dry and warm in June, the snow melted two to four weeks earlier than usual, the academy reported.

Weather services also reported at the end of August that the zero degree limit was higher than ever before, at almost 5,300 meters. Isolated summer snowfalls usually melted quickly and hardly provided the glaciers with urgently needed snow supplies.