Between 60 to 70 events in the Alps in the summer of 2019
The Alps are heavily impacted by global warming. Already between 60 and 70 incidents this summer constitute proof. And summer is far from being over.
On the 29th of July 2019, a rock pillar broke away from the Matterhorn (on the Italian-Swiss border). Unfortunately, a guide and his client died. According to thelocal.ch, Swiss mountain guides believe that the mountain should be closed for the climbers, as six people have lost their lives in the mountain this year.
Tuesday, it was the aiguille du Peigne and the Kuffner Ridge at Mont Maudit. Thursday, the Périades bivouac has collapsed. Sunday, was the bottom of the Cassin Way on the Walker Spur. A very long list that might get longer each day.
Moreover, there are events which take longer to happen but are nevertheless equally tragic. For example, the Mer de Glace has been severely shrinking throughout the years.
The mountain is not to blame
The Alps, including the Mont-Blanc massif, are changing. But it is not fair, nor accurate to blame nature for these events. Indeed, our own actions have led us to this situation, as global warming of the last 50 years is, with over 95% probability, due to humans (Myclimate.org).
According to Ludovic Ravanel, a geomorphologist specializing in the phenomenon, some of these events would not have happened a few years ago.
"We had two heatwave episodes at the beginning of the summer, including a relatively long and intense", says Ludovic Ravanel.
He continues by stating that a heatwave in June is far more dangerous than one in August. The former would have time to penetrate through the basement of the mountains, while the latter would be stopped by the first colds of winter.
“As the permafrost melts, whole sections of rock become destabilised and more prone to collapse.” declares Jacques Mourey, a climber and scientist who is researching the impact of climate change on the mountains above Chamonix, for The Guardian.
The locations of the next collapses are unpredictable. However, Ludovic Ravanel warns us: "we can expect to see large volumes, tens or even hundreds of thousands of cubic meters, fall".