08 Sep 2021

Lieu: Online

Organisation: Geneva Environment Network

Wednesdays for the Planet is a series of online screenings and virtual presentations with experts highlighting the natural world and other environmental challenges our planet faces. The virtual screenings are for educational purposes, non-profit and non-commercial.


Europe’s Melting Glaciers

As the climate crisis progresses, more and more ice is melting. Presented by Deutsche Welle (DW), « Europe’s Melting Glaciers » show that it is perhaps far too late to save the Alpine glaciers. And now, the dangers caused by tons of melting ice are rising sharply. Every year, climate change is destroying two of the currently 70 square kilometers of glaciers left in the Alps.

The permafrost in the Alps is thawing, and transforming what used to be sturdy slopes into loose screes. In addition, climate change is leading to significantly more extreme weather conditions every year, while heavy rainfall causes serious erosion. The result: avalanches and landslides like those in Bondo, Switzerland, or Valsertal in Austria.

In Switzerland, residential areas are shrinking as people are forced to leave their homes forever. The disappearance of glaciers as water reservoirs is already posing a major problem. Farmers in Engadine, who have been using meltwater for irrigation for centuries, are already facing water shortages. In recent years during the summer months, they had to rely on helicopters to transport water to their herds in the Grison Alps. Above all, alpine villages depend on winter tourism to survive. Yet experts are forecasting that by mid-century, there will only be enough natural snow left to ski above 2,000 meters, which will spell out the end for about 70 percent of the ski resorts in the Eastern Alps. But instead of developing alternatives, lots of money is still being invested in ski tourism. Snow cannon are used to defy climate change, and artificial snow systems are under construction at ever higher altitudes.

As usual, it’s the environment that is set to lose as the unique alpine landscape is further destroyed by soil compaction and erosion. Some municipalities are now working on new models of alpine tourism for the future. As global temperatures continue to rise, the cooler mountain regions will become increasingly attractive for tourists, especially in the summer.

Online Screening


Matthias Huss

Head of Glacier Monitoring Switzerland | Scientific Member of Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements Glaciology Research Unit at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL | Senior Lecturer at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich

Matthias Huss is the Head of Glacier Monitoring Switzerland (GLAMOS) and a scientific member of the Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements Glaciology Research Unit at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL. He is also a senior lecturer at the Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW) at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich). In addition, Matthias has authored and co-authored numerous publications, most notably the “Global-Scale Hydrological Response to Future Glacier Mass Loss (2018)” for Nature Climate Change, “A New Model for Global Glacier Change and Sea-Level Rise (2015)” for Frontiers in Earth Science, and “Distributed Ice Thickness and Volume of All Glaciers Around the Globe (2012)” for the Journal of Geophysical Research. Furthermore, he has won several awards such as the 2015 “Early Career Award” from the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), the 2014 “Arne Richter Award” for outstanding young scientists from the European Geosciences Union (EGU), and the 2013 “Cryosphere Young Investigator Award” from the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Matthias holds a Ph.D. in Glaciology from the ETH Zurich.

Virtual Presentation