It is now clear that the month of July has been the hottest since humans started measuring temperatures. Something that affected the already rapidly melting glaciers in the Alps.

SVT has visited one of the Alps' largest glaciers "Mer de Glace", which is shrinking just over a decimeter a day. Luc Moreau, who works as a glacier scientist and measures the glacier's depth daily, is worried about what he sees.

Luc Moreau is one of the glacier scientists who guided the "Mer de Glace" glacier. Photo: Jörgen Söderström

Decreased 45 centimeters in four days

- Last week the glacier decreased by a full 45 cm in four days, which is a lot, says Luc Moreau.

During the summer, Luc Moreau was forced to constantly move his measuring stations as they literally run away with the melting glacier.

The glaciers exist because the climate allows a certain amount of ice and snow to survive the warmer temperatures of the summers and thus can build up the large masses of ice that the glaciers make up. With a warmer climate, the conditions for the glaciers change.

Ice that melts in the Mont Blanc massif. Photo: Jörgen Söderström

Affected by climate change

It is natural for glaciers to decrease in volume in summer and increase in volume in winter. Like, over time, they can both increase and decrease in size. But according to Luc Moreau, there is no doubt that the radical reduction we see now has to do with climate change.

- Here in the Mont Blanc massif, some smaller glaciers have already disappeared completely. In other areas such as the Pyrenees, all glaciers will have disappeared in twenty years, says Luc Moreau.

If nothing is done, the glaciers can disappear

According to researchers, more than 90 percent of glacier ice in the Alps may be gone by the next turn of the century unless we reduce carbon dioxide emissions radically. This is according to a report from the European Geosciences Union earlier this year.

Even if we manage to keep the Paris Agreement's target with a maximum temperature increase of two degrees, half of the Alps glacier ice is estimated to be gone in fifty years and a full two-thirds at the turn of the century. Something that will affect both nature and the inhabitants of the Alps.

The glaciers of the Alps are melting ever faster. Photo: Jörgen Söderström

Water shortage and large avalanches

-The glaciers are disappearing fast now, which causes many problems. It may be a water shortage as the glaciers supply many of the valleys and their inhabitants with water through the rivers that form in the summer. Large parts of the mountains can collapse as the ice melts in the summer and huge avalanches can be created in the winter, says Luc Moreau.

Threats tourism

Tourism will also be hit hard if the glaciers disappear. Here to "Mer de Glace" and the ice cave excavated annually since the mid-19th century, hundreds of thousands of tourists come every year. Now they also learn about the effects of climate change. Every day Luc Moreau or one of his glacier research colleagues is there to inform.

- I think it is good to tell people directly on site so that they understand what will be lost in the future, says Luc Moreau.