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How will the roof of Europe look like in 100 years?

Posted on May 27th, 2013

This is the question that the online atlas of Mont Blanc claims to answer by scrutinizing the impact of climate change on this iconic massif, which concentrates diverse natural environments. The image shown on the picture may look very different indeed, at this time only a small fraction of the white cover might be left.

Mont Blanc as we now see it-BLANC0834_modifié-1

For the scientific community but also the general public, this new tool has been officially launched on Monday, May 27 in Chamonix (Haute-Savoie).

“Climate change, we talk a lot about it but it remains a bit abstract for most of us. Showing its visual impact across the Mont Blanc is more powerful, “says Anne Delestrade, director of the Centre for Research on Alpine Ecosystems (CREA).

«Back to safety”

Funded by the European Union, the site contains many photos, videos and maps (some in 3D), changing temperatures, melting glaciers or distribution of vegetation.

One can find that by 2100 it will necessary to go over 4083 meters in July to feel negative temperatures, this is 700 meters higher than today. At this time the frozen parts of the range will represent less than 10 km² during the hottest

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months of the year against 70 km² between 1950 and 2000.

One can also expect to experience more landslide there because the permafrost (permanently frozen ground, ed) which acts as a glue between rocks and seals all Chamonix needles,” will be essentially gone impacting safety. Remember that in 2005, a landslide of 265 000 m³ had already caused the disappearance of the famous Bonatti Pillar in the west face of the Dru.

Some maps also show the regress of the range glaciers, shrinking from a total area of 450 km² in 16,000 BCE to about to 230 km² in 1850 to only 160 km² in 2000.

This will obviously impact the fauna and flora.

Anne Delestrade in an s interview in a Swiss radio said that “the landscape changes will be quite noticeable, forests are expected to move to higher elevations and some alpine species will see their territory shrink.

As an example the Ranunculus Glacialis which is found at around 2600 m in this territory will have to climb to 3300 m to survive.”

Note that climate change is faster on the Mont-Blanc elsewhere with a 1.5 ° C warming during the twentieth century against 0.5 ° C in the world.

The Atlas, (http://www.atlasmontblanc.org) which will be updated over time, brings together 194 environmental sciences studies on the Mont-Blanc conducted by 65 research organizations (universities, laboratories, government) in France, Italy and Switzerland.

See also: http://www.ledauphine.com/france-monde/2013/05/23/le-mont-blanc-a-l-epreuve-du-changement-climatique-dans-un-atlas-en-ligne


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