It's downhill for Alpine skiing

Tech Culture

Here's a thought for parents of young children: forget skiing lessons. Teach your kids to swim. The newest predictions on Europe's Alpine glaciers tell us they'll soon be much reduced. And there well may be serious flooding down at the bottom.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service in Zurich now says most Alpine glaciers could melt by 2037. One expert said, "The future looks rather liquid." He then said mountains less than fourteen thousand feet tall would lose all glaciers.

The thirty-one tallest European Alps could thus retain some permanent snow and ice. That includes the tallest, Mont Blanc, which is over 15,000 feet tall. That means it's tall enough to be safe from disappearing, which is a good thing; it's named for its year-round white coat. Also, Matterhorn at 14,692. But if these predictions are right, it would shut out Austria completely. Europe's few glaciers would largely be in Switzerland, with some shared by Italy and France.

And it's not just the situation that seems to get worse for skiers. So have the predictions. Just last spring, the Zurich-based glacier folks said Europe could lose three-quarters of its Alpine glaciers in a century. Some are now decreasing three percent annually.

There may be a race between Greenland glaciers and those on the Alps to see who vanishes first. Meanwhile, many of the world's rich and powerful are gathering in Davos, Switzerland, not far from the dying glaciers. It's the World Economic Forum. Their Web site claims they're paying attention.

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