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Photographer's Note

With 27 billion tons of ice, the Great Aletsch glacier is part of the Unesco World Heritage Site and is the Alps' mightiest ice flow. During past ice ages, the Great Aletsch Glacier united with the Rhone Glacier. The latter became the largest of all the Alpine glaciers and at its various peaks stretched almost to Lyon in France.



Another impressive fact about the Aletsch Glacier is its length: at 23 kilometers (75,463 ft), the Aletsch Glacier is the longest stream of ice in the Alps. The surface of the entire ice flow amounts to 86 square kilometers (53 square miles).

Just as impressive as the length is the depth of the ice. Scientists from ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology at Zurich) have measured a depth of 900 meters (2,952 ft) at the Konkordiaplatz. The weight of the ice is calculated at 27 billion tons, which is equal to the weight of 72.5 million jumbo jets!

While the temperature rose by a worldwide average of 0.74°C over the past century (1905-2005), it rose by 1.5°C in Switzerland during the same period! This has left its mark on the country’s glaciers – and more than one glacier has begun to melt.

The glacier has shrunk significantly over the past decades due to global warming. In some places, where the glacier used to support the surrounding mountains, the ice has almost completely disappeared. This has increased the risk of rockslides.

Geologists have discovered major cracks on one of the mountainsides at the Moosfluh. In mid October last year it was slipping by up to 80 centimetres day. This downwards movement has slowed to 12 cm a day but geologists expect the rate to pick up again.

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Additional Photos by Serge Ballestraz (freedahu) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 75 W: 0 N: 205] (820)
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