History, Culture and Religion
Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch

Why the Earth's clinical thermometer is in the Alps

Global climate change manifests itself more clearly in the mountains than in the lowlands. A particularly meaningful climate indicator in the mountain region are the glaciers. These sensitive climate indicators react to climatic fluctuations by changing their mass.

The shrinkage of Alpine glaciers observed since the last glacial high at the end of the Little Ice Age around 1850 / 1860 is undoubtedly related to global warming and roughly corresponds to the measured temperature increase of about 1 to 2° C in the Alpine region. The ongoing and today accelerated glacier retreat has visibly changed the appearance of the Alps. New unglaciated areas have emerged, the glacier forelands, which, depending on the altitude, are bare or gradually being taken over by vegetation again. Climate change has become tangible. Climate change can be observed particularly well on the Aletsch glacier in the World Heritage area Swiss Alps Jungfrau-Aletsch.

On the one hand, global warming is due to natural fluctuations in the climate; on the other hand, there are indications that humans are also increasingly intervening in climate events. Although the natural causes are still largely unclear, a climatic oscillation over the Atlantic Ocean, the so-called North Atlantic Oscillation, is suspected as the driving force. This is connected to the northward currents in the Atlantic, which sometimes carry more, sometimes less heat northwards. This influences the weather in Europe, which directly affects the mass balance of the glaciers.