Pyrenees glaciers may disappear completely by 2050

Pyrenees glaciers may disappear completely by 2050
Pyrenees glaciers may disappear completely by 2050

Glaciers, located in the cliffs of the Pyrenees mountains separating France and Spain, could disappear in the next 30 years due to rising global temperatures. Scientists from the French Regional Glacier Research Association estimate that the Pyrenean ice is threatened with complete extinction by 2050, according to

Experts base their forecast on measurements that have been carried out for 18 consecutive years in a group of 9 glaciers located on the French side.

The United Nations said the past decade was the hottest on record and warned that persistent greenhouse gas emissions would accelerate the rise in global average temperatures, leading to a decrease in ice cover.

Comprehensive surveys and GPS tracking of glaciers in the Pyrenees point to the same effects already noted on glaciers in the Alps and Greenland: Warmer and drier winters are destroying ice reserves irrevocably.

The total area of the nine glaciers is now 79 hectares, up from 140 hectares recorded 17 years ago. This is only a small part of the 450 hectares that ice occupied in the middle of the 19th century, and the rate of melting is accelerating. Since 2002, the Pyrenean glaciers have been losing 3.6 hectares annually, which is equal to 5 football fields.

2019 was no exception: the lower boundary of most glaciers retreated by 8.1 m last summer, compared to 7.2 m recorded in previous years.

Melting glaciers are disrupting local ecosystems and putting people at risk. Climbers will lose their support points for climbing the steepest peaks, which will complicate their routes. And for travelers at lower altitudes, ice retreat destabilizes previously rugged slopes, increasing the risk of rocks falling and avalanches.