Decay of a long-term monitored glacier: the Careser glacier (Ortles-Cevedale, European Alps)

Carturan, L.; Baroni, C.; Becker, M.; Bellin, A.; Cainelli, O.; Carton, A.; Casarotto, C.; Dalla Fontana, G.; Godio, A.; Martinelli, T.; Salvatore, M. C.; Seppi, R.
July 2013
Cryosphere Discussions;2013, Vol. 7 Issue 4, p3293
Academic Journal
The continuation of valuable, long-term glacier observation series is threatened by the accelerated mass loss which currently affects a large portion of so-called "benchmark" glaciers. In this work we present the evolution of the Careser glacier, from the beginning of systematic observation at the end of the nineteenth century to its current condition in 2012. In addition to having one of the longest and richest observation record among the Italian glaciers, Careser is unique in the Italian Alps for its 45 yr mass balance series started in 1967. In the present study, variations in the length, area and volume of the glacier since 1897 are examined, updating the series of direct mass balance observations and extending it into the past using the geodetic method. The glacier is currently strongly out of balance and in rapid decay; its average mass loss rate over the last three decades was -1.5m water equivalent per year, increasing to -2.0m water equivalent per year in the last decade. If mass loss continues at this pace, the glacier will disappear within a few decades, putting an end to this unique observation series.


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