Satellite Images Reveal the White Alps Are Turning Green Because of Climate Change

Jax Hudur

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Satellite Images Reveal the White Alps Are Turning Green Because of Climate ChangeWikimedia

A high-resolution satellite data from 1984 to 2021 has, in a study published by researchers from the University of Lausanne and the University of Basel, found that the white alps are disappearing due to global warming. 

As seen from space, the snow-capped Alps are turning green, and scientists are claiming there is now a 77% increase in vegetated areas above the Alps’ tree line. The researchers have termed the alps increase of plant biomass as “absolutely massive” and warn of even more pronounced changes in the future.

Sabine Rumpf, the lead author of the study and an ecologist at the University of Basel, told AFP, “We were very surprised, honestly, to find such a huge trend in greening.” While the revelations are startling, the study suggests the consequence of the greening could increase carbon sequestration.

An old climate change warning on Mont Blanc mountain

The alps stretch 750 miles across eight Alpine countries and are not only the highest but also the most extensive mountain range system in Europe. Mont Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps and western Europe, has an elevation of 4807.81 above sea level and ranks the eleventh position in the world’s mountain summits.

The Alps are home to thirteen thousand species of plants and thirty thousand wildlife species. In addition, 14 million alpine population across the alpine countries call the region home. Tourism is also crucial to the region’s economy as over 120 million tourists visit the Alps thanks to the winter sports and world-class resorts.

Global warming poses a threat to the ecosystem

While four decades of data cannot be ignored even by the staunchest the anti-climate change deniers, Rumpf further affirmed, “It is climate change that is driving these changes. Warming means that we have longer vegetation periods, we have more benign conditions that foster plant growth, so plants can just grow more and faster.”

The study further warns of a vicious cycle; the warmer it gets, the more rain and precipitation instead of snow which will cause significant disruption to the drinking water that used to come from the melting snow. What this entails is that water not stored as snow will quickly be lost to the rivers, directly threatening human, animal, and plant life as snow is integral to the alps’ ecosystem balance.

Climate Change facts

It’s happening all-over

While the data reaffirms what scientists have known about the impact of climate change, glaciers are melting at shocking rates. Late last year, scientists were alarmed when the Thwaites glacier they monitored formed cracks and fissures. Thwaite’s size is believed to be 100 times the size of Larsen B glacier, which broke and shattered into thousands of icebergs. Scientists named the thwaites cracks and fissures the “doomsday” glacier.

Around the globe, individuals worried about the planet’s future are taking a stand. For example, a Peruvian farmer named Saul Luciano Lliuya has taken the energy giant RWE to court. The RWE electricity company, which markets itself as “from a local electricity company to an international provider,” has been accused by the farmer of endangering his home and contributing to global warming in the melting of Peruvian glaciers. 

Despite the efforts of scientists and motivated climate activists such as Mr. Saul Luciano, I am afraid the snow-capped white Alps becoming green is a heartbreak many of us will have to come to terms with as it may happen sooner than we think.

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