Cavagnoli Glacier Retreat, Swiss Alps

Ghiacciaio dei Cavagnoli (Ghiacciaio dei Cavagnöö) drains south into Lago dei Cavagnoli (Lago dei Cavagnöö), which is impounded by a dam that was 111 meters high. This hydropower plant provides 174 MW of power. The glacier itself has separated into five separate ice masses that are each melting quickly away. The Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network has observed the annual retreat of this glacier since 1980. A chart of this retreat from the data of the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network is below. The total retreat of the main ice mass has been 343 meters. The top of the glacier has also been retreating this is a symptom of a glacier that will not survive (Pelto, 2010). The glacier as viewed from below and from directly above in Google Earth Imagery indicates a thin glacier with few crevasses. The five separate ice masses are all indicated by stars. This glacier has no accumulation zone in 2009. This has become a reoccurring pattern for this glacier, and also is a sign of a glacier that cannot survive. This glacier is a small relic of its former mapped extent. when the glacier was a single ice mass. Today the largest ice mass is 0.4 square kilometers and none of the ice masses appear destined for surviving. On the main ice mass there is a meltwater stream from the top to the bottom of the glacier indicating that even the top of the glacier is usually snow free by summer’s end. This glacier is in similar shape to the glaciers in the Rotondo area just to the north


Chüebodengletscher and Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo, Switzerland nearly gone

Chüebodenhorn is 3,070 meter high in the Lepontine Alps. The Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo lies at the foot of its north face and Chüebodengletscher is on its south side. Chüebodengletscher is confined to a small cirque, and currently ends in a lake . In several recent years including 2010 the glacier lost all of its snowcover. The glacier is currently 500 meters long and has an elevation range of 75 meters. The lake which fringes the glacier will turn into a circular alpine lake as the glacier melts away. At present the crescent shaped lake is 140 meters wide. The annual layers in this glacier are evident much like tree rings, that the are all emergent at the surface indicates that all the snow and firn that is supposed to cover most of a glacier at the end of the summer, has been lost from all of the glacier. There are at least 75 annual layers evident. The youngest layer (y) is at the top of the glacier and oldest (o) at the bottom.
Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo is a thin slope glacier. This glacier also has a short elevation span of 80 meters from the terminus to its head in a distance of 500 meters. The glacier is a slope glacier that has little apparent thickness. The glacier will be lost faster than the thicker Chüebodengletscher. Ghiacciaio del Pizzo Rotondo also has lost all of its snowcover, and without a persistent and consistent accumulation zone it cannot survive. These two glaciers are losing mass like many neighboring such as the large Gries Glacier monitored by the In the graph below From the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network the cumulative mass loss of Gries Glacier has been 20 meters. Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network. This mass loss of Swiss Glaciers led to 86 of the 95 glacier observed to retreat, while six were stationary and three advanced. The lack of an accumulation zone indicates that the glaciers will follow the path of Presena Glacier and Dosde Glacier unlike Oberaar Glacier which retains an accumulation zone.

Ried Glacier Rapid Glacier loss, Switzerland

Ried Glacier is beneath the Durrenhorn in the Pennine Alps of Switzerland. The glacier was 6.3 km long in 1973. In 2010 the glacier is 5.1 km long. From the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network annual measurements, Ried Glacier retreated 300 m from 1955-1990, 8 meters/year. From 1990-2008 retreated an additional 300 m, 30 m/year. Than in 2009 the glacier retreated 500 m. A comparison of a 2004 image taken by M. Funk and a Sept. 2008 image from D. Gara indicate why the change was so abrupt. The glacier had been retreating upvalley with a long gentle terminus tongue. This section of the glacier separated from the glacier in late 2008, with the terminus now ending on a steep rock slope. There is still stagnant ice in the valley below the end of the current glacier. It is heavily debris covered and no longer connected to the glacier system. This glaciers recent rapid retreat parallels that of Dosde Glacier, Italy and Triftgletshcer, Switzerland and Rotmoosferner, Austria. A look at the glacier system and the terminus in Google Earth imagery provides a broader view of the glacier behavior. The terminus in this image still extends downvalley with the low sloping tongue that is now separated. Current terminus marked with red-T.
In the imagery above the glacier is still connected to the terminus tongue. It is evident that the glacier has two primary icefalls at that time. The upper icefall is the location of the annual snowline, where accumulation tends to persist throughout the year. Below this point only seasonal snowfall is retained. The retreat history from the Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network is seen below.