Back to overview

Implications of climate change on Glacier de la Plaine Morte, Switzerland. Geographica Helvetica

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2013
Author Huss Matthias, Voinesco A. , Hoelzle Martin,
Project Montanaqua: Anticiper le stress hydrique dans les Alpes - Scénarios de gestion de l'eau dans la région de Sierre-Crans-Montana (Valais).
Show all

Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Geographica Helvetica
Volume (Issue) 68
Page(s) 227 - 237
Title of proceedings Geographica Helvetica
DOI 10.5194/gh-68-227-2013


Changes in Switzerland’s climate are expected to have major impacts on glaciers, the hydrological regime and the natural hazard potential in mountainous regions. Glacier de la Plaine Morte is the largest plateau glacier in the European Alps and thus represents a particularly interesting site for studying rapid and far-reaching effects of atmospheric warming on Alpine glaciers. Based on detailed field observations combined with numerical modelling, the changes in total ice volume of Glacier de la Plaine Morte since the 1950s and the dynamics of present glacier mass loss are assessed. Future ice melt and changes in glacier runoff are computed using climate scenarios, and a possible increase in the natural hazard potential of glacier-dammed lakes around Plaine Morte over the next decades is discussed. This article provides an integrative view of the past, current and future retreat of an extraordinary Swiss glacier and emphasizes the implications of climate change on Alpine glaciers.