Most of Europe’s remaining glacial ice will be gone by the end of this century, according to a new report by scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research.

The study showed that unless there is urgent action to slow or prevent climate change, then the 4000 Alpine glaciers will have disappeared by 2100.

The Mer de Glace in Chamonix

It may be too late for many glaciers

Even if humans are able to take urgent action, their study found that it will be too late for many glaciers.

The changes to the climate that have happened already mean that around half of all glaciers will be gone by 2050.

To find out how these glaciers would be affected by a warming world, the authors used new computer models (combining ice flow and melt processes) and recorded data to study the future changes in different emission scenarios.

The Alps could be 90% ice free by 2100

Using 2017 as their base year, a point when Alpine glaciers had a total volume of about 100 km3.

Under a high-emissions case – currently just below current levels – the Alps would be mostly ice free by 2100, with only “isolated ice patches remaining at high elevation” and representing at most 5% of 2017 ice volume.

According to ETH Zurich senior co-author Daniel Farinotti:

“The future of these glaciers at risk, but there is still a possibility to limit their future losses.”

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