|Almost all of the world’s glaciers are shrinking, according to the United Nations. Scientists prepare to collect ice cores from the Colle Gnifetti glacier in the Alps, Jun 2021. (File photo by=Reuters via Enrico Costa for Ca’ Foscari University of Venice)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] ALPS: Scientists are racing to collect ice cores, along with long-frozen records they hold of climate cycles, as global warming melts glaciers and ice sheets. Some say they are running out of time. And, in some cases, it is already too late.
Late last year, German-born chemist Margit Schwikowski and a team of international scientists attempted to gather ice cores from the Grand Combin glacier, high on the Swiss-Italian border, for a United Nations-backed climate monitoring effort. In 2018, they scouted the site by helicopter and drilled a shallow test core. The core was in good shape, said Schwikowski. But in the two years it took for the scientists to return with a full drilling set-up, some of the information that had been trapped in the ice had vanished.
The mission on Grand Combin underscores the major challenge scientists face today in collecting ice cores: Some glaciers are disappearing faster than expected. The realisation is prompting renewed urgency, causing those who specialise in harvesting ice cores to accelerate missions, rethink where to target next and expand storage capacity. The sudden deterioration “tells us exactly how sensitive these glaciers are", said Schwikowski, head of the analytical chemistry group at the Paul Scherrer Institute in Villigen, Switzerland. "We were just two years too late."