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Global warming, to see it is to believe

Everyday we listen or read, in the television, radio, magazines, etc., something about global warming and climate change. Honestly, I strongly believe that the majority is not aware or no longer cares.

People may think that global warming or climate change is something affecting Polar Bears that leave in the North Pole, something to do with industrial pollution, the rising levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. For the majority global warming or climate change are just words, because they just leave in their small world and fail to see what is around them. The signs of global warming are all around us, we just don't see it or chose not to.

This week I went to Zermatt, Switzerland, to take some photographs and get away from the city life. While shooting, I started to notice some of the contours in the landscapes. In every direction that I looked, I could see these gray valleys, naked of vegetation, just full of rocks and running water. Clearly something was missing in these landscapes. I immediately realize what it was, still I wanted to be sure, so I checked my topographic charts and yes, the glaciers were no longer there.

Zmutt Glacier

Allow me to share what I saw by going through these images with you. In the picture above you have on the left, the Matterhorn, a peak with 4,478m. In the middle the Zmutt Glacier (Zmuttgletscher in German). This glacier is located at an average altitude of 2,980m. Zmuttgletscher is considered as an alpine glacier and has receded approximately 2 km since measurements were first recorded in 1850. Between 1985 and 2000 at a rate seven times faster than between 1850 and 1973.

Notice the proportions between the glacier and the Matterhorn. This glacier is big and for thousands of years carved its way in the landscape.

I wrote is big? Let me rephrase that, was big! Check the images below and ask yourself what happen to all that ice?

Findel Glacier

On the opposite direction, east of Zmuttgletscher, lies another glacier, the Findel Glacier (Findelgletscher in German). As per a study made by the University of Zurich in 2009, and comparing the measurements made in 2005, the glacier lost 49 million cubic metres of ice and a quarter of its surface area since 1850.

These are not the only two examples of how global warming is affecting the world and this region in particular. Not far from the Zmutt and Findel Glaciers, southeast of Zermatt, lies the Gorner Glacier (Gornergletscher in German).

Gorner Glacier

The Gorner Glacier is the second largest glacial system in the Alps. With an extension of 12 km, it covers 57 km2.

Numerous smaller glaciers connect with what is known as the Gorner Glacier. This system was initially composed by the following glaciers:

  • Monte Rosa Gletscher;

  • Grenzgletscher;

  • Zwillingsgletscher;

  • Schwärzegletscher;

  • Breithorngletscher;

  • Triftjigletscher;

  • Unterer Theodulgletscher

The last three are no longer connected.

The Swiss Glacier Mountain Network (SGMN) tracks long-term changes in glaciers in the Swiss Alps. They have data going back more than one hundred years for over 120 glaciers in the Swiss Alps (click here to be redirect to their webpage).

According to them, Switzerland glaciers lost 18 percent of their surface between 1985 and 2000. Switzerland is a small country, global warning is affecting the entire world.

At this point and before I finish, I would like to challenge you for a small exercise:

Picture in your mind what you see in these photographs. Notice that where once was millions of cubic metres of ice, exists now rocks. Keep that image in mind.

Now think big, think at a global scale. Just try to imagine what is happening around the world and how global warming is or will affect us.

Global warming, to see is to believe.

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