If the glaciers are a symbol, but also the symptom, of our relationship with the planet, then the data gathered in these past few years invites pause for reflection.
Melting glaciers are a clear sign of global warming and are a phenomenon that, although little discussed, has already had severe repercussions on the planet’s water resources, agriculture, industry, and also our collective well-being.
Italy possesses a number of major mountain ranges and some sizeable glaciers between Valle d’Aosta, Piedmont and Alto Adige, but also along the Apennines and in the regions of the centre-south.
According to continuous research and monitoring, in the space of just over 50 years Italian glaciers have shrunk in size by at least 30 percent, with a loss of around 150 square kilometres (the size of Lake Como) through a practically incessant process of melting.
In 2015 the Forni glacier broke up into three smaller glaciers, in the process losing the very characteristic that had given it the epithet of “the giant of the Stelvio National Park”.
Analyses of volumetric changes from 1981 up to the present day have highlighted that the quantity of water released from our glaciers – considering those of the Central Alps only – is 2,000 billion litres, the equivalent of 800,000 Olympic swimming pools or a lake 4 times the size of Trasimeno.
Today the country’s 900 glaciers cover a total surface area equivalent to that of Lake Garda: not only have the glaciers become smaller but we are also faced with the complete extinction of nearly 200 of them.
In 1800, for example, the glaciers in Valle d’Aosta covered 10% of the region’s area, whereas today this percentage has fallen dramatically to 4%.
In practice, as well as the former giant of the Stelvio, many other glaciers have fragmented into several sections in recent years: the Lys glacier, one of the largest in the Valle d’Aosta, is now reduced to 3-4 smaller parts; the same applies to the Lex Blanche glacier – also in Valle d’Aosta – the Ventina glacier in Lombardy, the Careser and Mandrone-Adamello glaciers in Trentino and the Vedretta Alta and Vallelunga glaciers in South Tyrol, to mention just the most famous.