VIENNA—Nearly all of Austria’s 900 glaciers retreated last year amid record-setting heat, according to Austrian scientists. The rapid melting mirrors a trend across the Alps and underscores scientists’ warnings of accelerating, extreme climate impacts caused by human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
Across the country, the glaciers retreated an average of 72 feet in 2015, more than twice the rate of the previous year, the Austrian Alpine Association said in its annual glacier survey. Three of the country’s glaciers retreated by more than 320 feet. The nonprofit association—which promotes mountain culture, research and conservation— has been conducting detailed glacier measurements since 1927, creating a dramatic record of climate change effects in the alpine region.
“The summer of 2015 was more than 2 degrees Celsius warmer than the long-term average,” said survey team coordinator Andrea Fischer, a glaciologist with the Austrian Academy of Sciences. “Long periods of high pressure and the absence summer snowfall…are the reasons for the glacial meltdown.”