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Mont Blanc, still collapsing on the Planpincieux glacier

Mont Blanc, still collapsing on the Planpincieux glacier


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A block of the Planpincieux glacier, on Grandes Jorasses, along the Italian side of the Mont Blanc it continues to melt at an impressive rate. This increases the splits and the risk of an imminent collapse involving a mass of about 250,000 cubic meters. At the moment, however, only a portion has been moved, approximately 27,000 cubic meters large (more than 10% of the total).

The technical structures of the Aosta Valley Region and of Safe Mountain Foundation of Courmayeur, which since 2013 in collaboration with Geohazard Monitoring Group of the CNR-IRPI of Turin, a national competence center, monitor the effects of climate change on the mountain-alpine territory, increasingly affected by the melting of ice due to high temperatures.

Although there are no particular risks for the inhabited centers but only for a well-defined portion of the territory, the Mayor of Courmayeur Stefano Miserocchi has ordered, as a precaution, an ordinance with respect to the potential danger of collapse of the Planpincieux glacier. These precautionary measures provide for the evacuation of some buildings and the closure of the municipal road to Val Ferret in the section between the intersection with the Montitaz farm road and the Planpincieux locality, however ensuring an alternative 24-hour road network reserved for residents. and to business owners in the affected area.

A radar installed on the glacier to monitor the situation

The glacier is also constantly monitored by a radar, baptized with the name Lisa, and went into operation just a few days ago. It is a monitoring system that is able to perceive very small movements and to create a very precise map of the deformations present, therefore useful for making more reliable predictions on the movements of the ice block.

The expert Fabrizio TroiloHowever, the Safe Mountain Foundation reports that at the moment it is not possible to predict the evolution of the situation, that is, whether the mass of ice will continue to fall apart or in a single event.

What is certain is that according to today's data reported by the radar, the front of the glacier continues to move towards the valley floor at a speed of 90 centimeters per day. The displacement of Wednesday 25 September - calculated with photographic systems - was instead of 30 centimeters, while in the previous days and until the morning of 30 September it had reached 60 centimeters. The rear parts of the glacier they confirm, instead, a constant sliding of 30 centimeters per day for the central one and 15 centimeters for the tail one.

The Planpincieux glacier is not the only one at risk of collapse

The "case of the Planpincieux glacier" on Mont Blanc, it is not the only one at risk of collapse. Already during the summer, other summit glaciers had given signs of subsidence and given rise to unusual events. He confirms it Fabrizio De Blasi, researcher ofPolar Science Institute of the National Research Council, which studies the history and evolution of Italian glaciers with the projectIce Memory.

TheWhymper, for example, which is located in the same area as Planpincieux is kept under observation as an imminent collapse of the terminal serac is expected. Also in this case, the Mayor issued an ordinance towards the beginning of September with which he ordered the closure of the paths below and the Boccalatte-Piolti refuge.

THE glaciers below 3,500 meters destined to disappear within 20-30 years

According to the glaciologist of the National Research Council (Cnr) Renato Colucci «If temperatures continue to rise, within a few decades the eternal glaciers of the Eastern and Central Alps could drastically shrink or disappear. They would remain only on Western Alps, the higher ones. Furthermore, the glaciers are getting darker, and therefore more vulnerable to solar radiation ». And that the Alpine glaciers are retreating is also shown by the data of the last Cadastre of Italian glaciers in which it is recorded that the surface of the glaciers has increased from 519 km2 in 1962 (Cadastre Cgi-Cnr), to 609 km2 in 1989 (World Glacier Inventory cadastre, with data collected in the 70s-80s), to the current 368 sq km, equal to 40% less than the last land registry.

In short, as the Minister of the Environment Sergio Costathere is more and more "the urgency of strong and coordinated action for the climate, to prevent the occurrence of extreme events that risk having dramatic consequences".

Curated by Christel Schachter



Video: Mont Blanc glacier on the brink of collapse (May 2022).