Italy’s scientists are continuously monitoring a melting glacier of the Mont Blanc massif, which has the risk of collapse due to the increasing temperatures.
The Planpincieux glacier, standing at 2,700 meters (8,860 feet), overlooks the village of Planpincieux, underneath the south face of the Grandes Jorasses within the Mont Blanc massif in Italy’s scenic northwest corner.
Earlier, the Planpincieux glacier was seated in a more stable position on the rock. It was thicker with fewer fractures, said Paolo Perret, a glacier specialist at the Courmayeur-based Safe Mountains Foundation.
Due to rising temperatures, the glacier has shifted down to a smooth and steep surface which causes it to be in an unstable position, Perret explained.
The Temperate Glacier In Mont Blanc
Mont Blanc’s Planpincieux is a temperate glacier and is already at a melting point, as opposed to polar glaciers that are still frozen to bedrock.
It means the Planpincieux glacier can slide down faster due to the water just under its surface, making it more volatile and hazardous for the Val Ferret valley below, experts say.
The glacier’s movements are not insignificant, with the glacier in severe cases slipping almost 150 centimeters in a day in contrast to the Whymper serac, a polar glacier above it looming nearly 4,000 meters above sea level, can slide between two and 20 centimeters per day resulting in imminent collapses.
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A gigantic block of ice from the Whymper serac measuring 15,000 square meters came crashing the previous October, a day after authorities had prohibited access to paths underneath.
Movements of the Planpincieux glacier and those above it are closely kept track of using radar. The unstable region’s safety plan anticipates a variety of potential scenarios.
Italian authorities have evacuated roughly 75 people, mainly tourists, from an Alpine valley as enormous blocks of ice threaten to crash down from the glacier. The threatening glacier section is about the size of the Milan cathedral.
All roads leading to Val Ferret, a well-liked area for hikers, have been closed off.
A comparable alert and evacuation took place last September, because of the unusually hot Alpine summer, attributed to global warming.
The worst-case scenario would be the fall of an 800,000-meter cube glacier to the village and road below, Segor alerted.