7 Dec 2011

French glaciers shrinking as temperatures warm

9:52 pm on 7 December 2011

New research suggests glaciers in the French Alps have lost a quarter of their area over the past 40 years, and it blames warmer temperatures for the development.

The biggest losses occurred at the lower elevations in the southern sector of the Alps whilst the highest altitudes in the north have seen little change.

The research has been presented at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting, the world's largest annual gathering of Earth scientists, the BBC reports.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the ice fields slipping down Mont Blanc and the surrounding mountains of the European range covered some 375 sq km and, by the late 2000s, this area had fallen to about 275 sq km.

The latest inventory of glaciers in the French Alps was produced by a team from the University of Savoie and assessed the roughly 600 glaciers.

The team drew upon map archives, past satellite imagery and aerial photographs as well as on-the-spot inspections in drawing up their assessment.