Austrian Alpine Club warns country’s glaciers will be gone in 45 years

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Austrian glaciers will be gone in 45 years, the Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV) warned on Friday, in its latest glacier measurement report that details the rapid shrinking of 93 glaciers in Austria in the last couple of years.

The Pasterze glacier receded the most with over 203 metres. The Rettenbachferner glacier in Tirol came in second, losing 127 metres of ice. Of the 93 glaciers observed, only one did not shrink further.

“De facto in 40 to 45 years all of Austria will be pretty much ice-free,” the head of the glacier measurement service Andreas Kellerer-Pirklbauer told reporters at a press conference in Salzburg.

“Time is up” for Austria’s glaciers, announced Gerhard Lieb of the Austrian Alpine Club. Only if snow and ice would start forming again now the glaciers could at least maintain their current size Lieb explained, but “you can’t save the Austrian glaciers anymore, because the systems are too sluggish.”

The experts said that the continued existence of Austria’s glaciers is down entirely to ice reserves from the past.

Glaciers are masses of ice that form as snow and ice compact over centuries and then flow slowly over land. Their melting is one of the most notable indications of human-caused climate change, with glaciers around the world rapidly retreating.

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