Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Glaciers In The Pyrenees Will Disappear In Less Than 50 Years, Study Finds

Date:
September 6, 2008
Source:
Plataforma SINC
Summary:
Much has been said about the situation of the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but little is known about those in the high mountain areas of the Iberian Peninsular. A Spanish research study has revealed, for the first time, that now only the Pyrenees has active glaciers. Furthermore, the steady increase in temperature, a total of 0.9°C since 1890, indicates that Pyrenean glaciers will disappear before 2050, according to experts.

The steady increase in temperature, a total of 0.9°C since 1890, indicates that Pyrenean glaciers will disappear before 2050, according to experts.
Credit: SINC / Juan José González Trueba

Much has been said about the situation of the glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica, but little is known about those in the high mountain areas of the Iberian Peninsular. A Spanish research study has revealed, for the first time, that now only the Pyrenees has active glaciers.

Furthermore, the steady increase in temperature, a total of 0.9°C since 1890, indicates that Pyrenean glaciers will disappear before 2050, according to experts.

Researchers from the University of Cantabria, the Autonomous University of Madrid and Valladolid have produced a summary on the current situation of the Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europa. Scientists have based their work on how climate change has affected the glaciers since the so-called Little Ice Age (from 1300 to 1860) to conclude that only the Pyrenees has active glaciers left.

“High mountains are particularly sensitive areas to climate and environmental changes, and how glaciers evolve there in response to climate change is one of the most effective indicators of current global warming, in this case evidenced in Iberian mountain ranges”, explained the main study researcher and professor from the University of Cantabria, Juan José González Trueba, to SINC.

The authors have compiled data from current and historic glacier studies, as well as information from Spain’s ERHIN Programme, to present the first global study on three glaciated high mountain areas in the Iberian Peninsular in historic times and the evolution of the deglaciation process to date.

60% of Pyrenean glaciers have melted

There are currently only 21 glaciers in the Pyrenees (ten on the Spanish side and eleven on the French side) covering an area of 450 hectares. In just 15 years, since 1990, glaciological calculations have shown that rapid melting has caused the total regression of the smallest glaciers and 50%-60% of the surface area of the largest glaciers.

According to this pioneering study, between 1880 and 1980, at least 94 glaciers disappeared in the Iberian Peninsular, and since the 1980s, the remaining 17 glaciers have disappeared. Glaciers are sensitive “geoindicators of climate change, and features of high heritage value, in a clear process of melting, and therefore possible disappearance”, González Trueba pointed out to SINC.

A look back at the past

The glaciers in the Iberian Peninsula's mountains were formed in the Little Ice Age. The coldest period in which the greatest spread of glaciers in the Spanish high mountains was recorded occurred between 1645 and 1710. Between 1750 and the beginning of the 19th century small glaciers receded in the Pyrenees but soon recovered thanks to a new period of low temperatures. However, since then, temperatures have risen between 0.7ºC y 0.9ºC in Spain’s northern mountains, showing the effects of global warming.

The first evidence of the existence of glaciers in the Picos de Europa was discovered in the notes of geographers, naturalists and travellers at the end of the 19th century. Recent studies have shown that Cantabrian glaciers existed in historic times, always located on the north faces of the highest peaks, under an oceanic climate at “extremely” low altitudes, from 2190 m to 2600 m.

In Sierra Nevada, scientists have verified the existence of the southernmost glacier in Europe during the Little Ice Age, under Mediterranean climate conditions, and where factors promoting the accumulation of snow were altitude, orientation (north side) and topographic conditions. This glacier, also indicated by the first naturalists, disappeared at the beginning of the 20th century. The rise in temperature caused its melting until it was transformed into a small “ice lens” buried beneath a dense blanket of deposits.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Plataforma SINC. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gonzalez Trueba et al. `Little Ice Age' glaciation and current glaciers in the Iberian Peninsula. The Holocene, 2008; 18 (4): 551 DOI: 10.1177/0959683608089209

Cite This Page:

Plataforma SINC. "Glaciers In The Pyrenees Will Disappear In Less Than 50 Years, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 September 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080905164328.htm>.
Plataforma SINC. (2008, September 6). Glaciers In The Pyrenees Will Disappear In Less Than 50 Years, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080905164328.htm
Plataforma SINC. "Glaciers In The Pyrenees Will Disappear In Less Than 50 Years, Study Finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/09/080905164328.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Higgins Breaks Record at Mt. Washington

Driving Sports (July 24, 2014) — Subaru Rally Team USA drivers David Higgins and Travis Pastrana face off against a global contingent of racers at the annual Mt. Washington Hillclimb in New Hampshire. Includes exclusive in-car footage from Higgins' record attempt. Video provided by Driving Sports
Powered by NewsLook.com
Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Storm Kills Three, Injures 20 at Virginia Campground

Reuters - US Online Video (July 24, 2014) — A likely tornado tears through an eastern Virginia campground, killing three and injuring at least 20. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

    Health News

      Environment News

        Technology News



          Save/Print:
          Share:  

          Free Subscriptions


          Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

          Get Social & Mobile


          Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

          Have Feedback?


          Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
          Mobile iPhone Android Web
          Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
          Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
          Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins