Evidence of climate change impact upon glaciers' recession within the Italian Alps

Diolaiuti, G.; Bocchiola, D.; D'agata, C.; Smiraglia, C.
July 2012
Theoretical & Applied Climatology;Jul2012, Vol. 109 Issue 1/2, p429
Academic Journal
We present evidence of climate change impact upon recent changes of glaciers within Lombardy region, in Northern Italy. We illustrate the recent area evolution of a set of 249 glaciers in the area using three surface area records for 1991, 1999 and 2003. The 1999 and 2003 surface area data are processed by combining glacier limits manually digitized upon registered color orthophotos and differential GPS (DGPS) glaciers' surveys. Glaciers' area was 117.4 km in 1991, 104.7 km in 1999, and to 92.4 km 2003, with a 21% reduction. Glaciers smaller than 1 km accounted for 53% of the total loss in area (13.1 km during 1991-2003). The area change rate was higher lately, with ca. 11.7 % reduction during 1999-2003. We split Alps and fore Alps of Lombardy into six mountain groups, and we separately investigate relative area variations. We use climate series from local stations within each group to assess climate change during a 30-year window (1976-2005). We focus upon temperature and snow cover depth at thaw, known to impact glaciers' changes. We compare local year-round temperature anomalies against global ones to evidence enhanced warming within this area, and we investigate the correlation of our target climate variables against NAO. Eventually, we highlight the link between the rate of change of our climate variables to the observed scaling of area loss against glaciers' size, showing that in rapidly warming areas glaciers' size affects less relative melting.


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