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SCIENTISTS MONITOR MELTING GLACIER - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Sunday September 10, 2017 - Email this article to a friend

People are returning to the Swiss village of Saas-Grund after part of a glacier collapsed. They were evacuated shortly before. UPDATED

 

 

Last Saturday scientists believed the glacier above the village was in danger of collapse following a warm summer.

Geologists measured significant movements along the tongue of the Trift glacier.

All hiking and mountain bike trails were closed.

A railway line and some roads were also shut as people were evacuated from their homes.

It was feared an icefall could trigger a larger avalanche of rocks that could reach the village.

The lower part of the glacier collapsed as predicted on Sunday.

The avalanche of rocks and ice did not reach the village and no-one was hurt.

The authorities have now deemed it safe for the villagers to return to their homes after assessing the situation.

The local access road has re-opened, though the mountain biking and hiking trails remain closed.

The police have said the the area is under surveillance and "the situation will be continually re-evaluated."

The glacier, is one of the fastest melting glaciers in Switzerland.

It begins at an altitude of 3,300m and has been steadily receding since 1986.

It has shrunk by a total distance of more than 2km up to 2015.

The shrinking Trift glacierThe shrinking Trift glacier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The glacier had been under close observation since October 2014, when the area was closed for three weeks.

With a return to colder temperatures, the situation stabilised and the access ban was lifted.

Many glaciers in Switzerland are now monitored and this is likely to increase sharply in the coming years.

Trift glacierTrift glacier

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trift Bridge spreads over the glacial lake and make the point of how much the glaciers are shrinking very well.

It is 100 meters high and 170 meters long.

A bridge was built in 2004 due to the glacier shrinking.

Just a few years ago the Trift Hut of the Swiss Alpine Club could be reached on foot via the glacier tongue.

But the melting of the glacier meant the glacier was no longer high enough to take visitors to the hut.

The Trift Bridge, which was modeled after Nepalese three-rope bridges, soon became a tourist attraction in its own right.

It was replaced in 2009 by a safer and more accessible bridge, which is one of the longest and highest pedestrian suspension bridges in the Alps.

Last month there was a huge landslide in the canton of Graubunden.

We reported on it at the time.

It adds further concern to a growing problem that we looked at over the summer. 

And below is a video looking at the impact of global warming on the Trift glacier.

See here for the main PlanetSKI news page with all the latest stories from the mountains.

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