Famous Glacier in the Italian Dolomites Melting Fast

Taylor Stephan |
Marmolada Glacier, Italian Dolomites (top right). Photo Credit: Lonely Planet

Marmolada glacier may not last long enough to see 2030.

The highest peak in the Italian Dolomites, Marmolada, stands at 10,968 feet and contains one of Italy’s most famous glaciers. The area played a pivotal role in World War I, as it became the line of control between Italian and Austro-Hungarian forces. However, due to the ongoing effects of climate change, most scientists believe the glacier has less than 15 years until the mountain is ice free.

The Dolomites, part of the iconic Alps, are a mountain range that stretches across Northeastern Italy and were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. They are known as the “Pale Mountains” due to their light color caused by carbonate minerals in the rock. On a clear day, you can even see the Dolomites and Marmolada from Venice, Italy, nearly 62 miles to the south on the Adriatic Sea.

Marmolada in the winter. Photo Credit: Dolomiti Superski

Marmolada is losing ice fast, and the speed of glacial melt has increased significantly in the last 3 years. The glacier is currently losing 9 hectares of ice each year, up from 5 hectares a decade ago. If the current rate of 9 hectares per year isn’t reduced, the glacier is expected to be nearly completely gone by 2031.

“In the last 70 years, it has lost more than 80% of its volume, from 95 million cubic meters of ice in 1954 to 14 million cubic meters now. Its disappearance approaches ever closer. It may have no more than 15 years of life left.”

– Aldino Bondesan, Glaciologist and Professor of Geomorphology at Padua University

Glacial melt across the Alps isn’t a problem just encountered by Italy. The European Environmental Agency has observed that glaciers in the Alps have contracted by 50% since 1900. If CO2 emissions across the World continue to rise, the Alps may even be ice free by 2100.

All across the globe, glacial melt is a tell-tale sign of the ongoing climate change crisis. From New Zealand to South America to Italy, once mighty glaciers have been reduced significantly, and in some cases, already lost. I’m sure the ski area on Marmolada, known as Malga-Ciapela/Marmolada with a peak to valley vertical drop of nearly 6,000 ft., will be keeping an eye on the glacial melt ramifications well into the future.

ski area
Malga-Ciapela/ Marmolada Trail Map. Photo Credit: Ski Map

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