According to a study, the Swiss glaciers have shrunk by ten percent in just two years due to extreme heat – as much as in the three decades before 1990 combined. After the record melting of six percent last year, the volume of the glaciers has decreased by a further four percent this year, the Swiss Commission for Cryosphere Observation (SKK) announced on Thursday.

2022 was the worst year for the glaciers in the Swiss Alps on record, the report said. Their volume has shrunk by a record six percent. This year it was hardly better at four percent. For 2023, “the second largest decline since measurements began” will be recorded. As a result, some glacier tongues collapsed and several smaller glaciers disappeared completely.

Glacier melting is occurring “at a rapidly increasing rate,” warned the SKK, which is part of the Swiss Academy of Sciences. This acceleration is “dramatic”: within just two years, as much glacier ice was lost as in the entire period from 1960 to 1990.

Glaciers are of great importance as water reservoirs, among other things. This also affects the hydroelectric power plants in Switzerland, from which around 60 percent of the energy generated in the Alpine country comes.

In 2019, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted in a special report on the oceans and global ice and snow reserves that low-lying glaciers such as those in the Alps and Scandinavia would lose around 80 percent of their mass by the end of this century. In its assessment report published in February 2022, the IPCC named the global melting of ice and snow as one of the top ten threats from climate change.

A glacier burst in the Italian Alps in July 2022 made it clear what immediate danger glacial melting poses. Eleven people died on the Marmolada Glacier.