summer glacier

Melting Glaciers . . ., the Alps.

When the alpine summer is hot and dry, even at the higher elevations,
like this year, the result is what is called a snow deficit. This means
that more glacier ice melts than is added, so there is a net loss of
ice and the glacier retreats.

Notice that in the foreground, there's no snow at all, but bare rock
and ice. And notice the clear horizontal line, half way; that's the
lateral moraine, marking clearing the line of retreat over past years>
(This glacier has been pulling back since 1920, an unambiguous sign
of climate warming.) And finally, notice in the background the rocky
terrain with grassy patches going all the way up to the ridge at about
3,300 meters in the distance. Just 70 years ago, this would of been
covered with snow and ice!

If you're, as I am, fascinated by this kind of UR or primal landscape,
you might enjoy one of the Picture/Poem
Walking the World miniature
essays called Above Treeline.

The cultural landscape of Europe is to this day richly diverse and complex,
and reflected in the watersheds out of which it emerged. Where I was
standing when the photograph was made, water runs North through
the Germanic language part of the continent; while just over the ridge,
water runs southwest into French-speaking areas {flowing right past
the little village where Rilke composed his Sonnets to Orpheus,
only about a five-day trek from here).


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Photograph by Cliff Crego © 2003