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Switzerland has more than 1.000 new glacial lakes

Switzerland has more than 1.000 new glacial lakes

A study published in mid-July has found that more than 1.000 new lakes have been formed across the Swiss mountains, due to rapid melting of some of the nation’s glaciers. 

Climate change is creating new alpine landscapes

The study, which was published by the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), had predicted that some new bodies of water would be found due to glacial melt, but the researchers were “surprised” when seeing the real figures. The research showed that there are almost 1.200 new lakes, lying where glaciers were previously frozen over. 

Daniel Odermatt, head of the Eawag Remote Sensing Group that carried out the study, expressed his shock at the extent of the glacial melt, and added that a huge “180 [lakes] have been added in the last decade alone”.

Glaciers in the Swiss Alps have been in decline for some time

Glacial melt in the Swiss Alps is not a new phenomenon, with the glaciers losing a full two percent of their volume last year alone, according to an annual study published by the Swiss Academies of Science.

The Eawag study showed that there was an initial peak in glacial lake formation in Switzerland's mountains between 1946 and 1973, when an average of eight new lakes formed per year. After a brief decline, the lake formation rate surged again between 2006 and 2016, with an average of 18 new lakes being formed each year. The water surface itself swelled by over 400 square metres annually.

According to Eawag, this shows “visible evidence of climate change in the Alps”. The institute warned that the growing number of glacial lakes increases the risk of dam bursts and the danger of localised flooding.

Emily Proctor

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Emily Proctor

Emily studied International Relations and Chinese, and is now undertaking Master's degree in International Security. She enjoys writing, cooking, and playing piano.

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