Portillon Glacier, French Pyrenees- Retreating and Disappearing

Portillon Glacier is in the Luchon-Bagneres region of the French Pyrenees, just north of the border with Spain. This currently small, and becoming smaller glacier drains into Lac du Portillon, which has a dam impounding it for hydroelectric generation. Like the nearby Aneto Glacier, Portillon Glacier has been thinning, retreating and separating. First a comparison of photographs from 1900 and 2013. In 1900 the glacier fills most of the cirque and nearly reaches the shore of the lake. The lake level is lower at this time also. By 2013 the glacier occupies a few small niches near the head of the cirque.

portillon lac 1900
1900 image from the Lakes of the Pyrenees web forum

portillon 2013
2013 image from Julien Lacrampe

By 2006 Google Earth imagery indicates a glacier with an area of 0.12 square kilometers, red dots indicate the terminus of the glacier. Section 3 of the glacier has separated from the main section, 2. Section 1 is a narrow avalanche fed fringe beneath the cliffs. This section is too steep to retain good snow. In the 2008 image The glacier also is notably thin with few crevasses, and several bedrock outcrops amidst the thinning ice. Both the 2006 and 2008 image indicate the lack of snowcover on the glacier. This has exposed up to 75 annual layers in a closeup transect from head to terminus of the glacier. There are only a few crevasses on this relatively steep glacier, indicating the lack of movement, which can only come from thin ice on a steep slope.

The lack of persistent snowcover at the end of the melt season indicates a glacier,, like the Aneto and Maladeta Glacier, that will not survive current climate (Pelto, 2010). Its area is much less than Aneto Glacier, and it will disappear sooner. As SOER (2010) indicates more than 80% of the area of glaciers in the Pyrenees has been lost since the start of the 20th century. The color of Lac du Portillon and the loss of glacier in the basin reminds me of the Milk Lake Glacier, Washington that I watched disappear recently.
portillon glacier 2006
Google Earth image

portillong glacier best
2008 Digital Globe image

portillon annual layers

Sommelier Glacier, France Disappearing

Index list of over 100 glaciers examined to date
The Sommelier Glacier is close up against the France-Italy border. The glacier is on the north side of Punta Sommelier centered on 3000 meters. The glacier has retreated 1800 meters from its Little Ice Age Maximum and is currently 600 meters long. The most notable aspect of the glacier today is its thin nature and the fact that there are three separated and stagnant ice masses (B, C), the main glacier section is outlined in blue. The large deglaciated fluted moraine is noted by point A. Within the area of the main glacier there are several rock outcrops protruding indicating the thin and decaying nature of the glacier, note blue placemarks. Also note that the glacier has limited snowcover. Both of these indicate a glacier is not forecast to survive. This is not surprising for the Sommelier Glacier given the fate of the nearby Galambra Glacier noted by the Italian Glacier Commission, inn this photo pair from 1954 and 2009. This glacier no longer graces the slopes of Punta Galambra. Punta Sommelier likewise will lose its glacier cover. This is the trend of alpine glaciers in Italy, other examples include Dosde Glacier, Italy and Presena Glacier.