The Austrian Alpine Club said it had never measured such a pronounced annual retreat as in 2022 since beginning its monitoring late in the 19th century.Glaciers in Austria are melting at an unprecedented rate, according to the Austrian Alpine Club.

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"Never before in the history of the Alpine Club's glacier measurement service, which dates back to 1891, has there been a greater loss of glaciers," the organization said in a statement on Friday.

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Sounding a "red alert" the Alpine Club said that on average, the 89 glaciers they observe had lost 29 meters in length — the biggest average loss of glaciers in a year since the end of the 19th century.

In 2021, the melting of glaciers had resulted in an average decrease of 11 meters in length.

Pasterze, which is the largest glacier in Austria, lost 14.7 million cubic meters of ice mass from the lower section.

The summer months of 2022 in much of Europe were particularly warm and dry, and the snowfall and winter weather in much of the Alps was also slow to set in late in the year as well.

"This result can be explained by a combination of the below-average amounts of snow in the winter, and another long and very warm melting period, which began around the transition from May into June and carried on into September," the leaders of the Alpine Society's glacier-measuring service, Gerhard Lieb and Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer, were quoted as saying in the organization's press release.

They said 2022 would go down as one of the least favorable years in the history of glacier research, despite the trend of worrying figures in recent years.

"The drastic glacier retreat ... undoubtedly makes clear the consequences of human-caused and massively intensified climate change," the two scientists said.

Call to halt glacier tourism

They also estimated that the Austrian Alps would be "as good as ice-free in the long term," saying an "optimistic" estimated date for this was by the year 2075, "but probably considerably earlier."

"The touristic development of glacier areas is, in the opinion of the Alpine Club, simply no longer justifiable at a time when the climate crisis is already having an enormous impact on the glaciers," the organization wrote.

By the end of the 21st century, half of Earth's glaciers and a quarter of their mass is likely to melt away, according to a study published in the journal Science in January.

Ingrid Hayek, president of the Austrian Alpine Association said that the melting of glaciers would lead to regional droughts in addition to floods, mudslides and rising sea levels.

mf/msh (AFP, dpa)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 01, 2023 08:50 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website