Climate change researchers have used a range of drone technologies to confirm fears that southern Europe’s largest glaciers in the Pyrenees mountains are rapidly melting amid rising temperatures – and may soon disappear altogether.
Experts from the Pyrenean Institute of Ecology published a study in August based on high-resolution imagery and LiDAR data collected by drones. Those were compared to similar aerial information taken a decade earlier, and with high-resolution satellite shots. What that found was both gutting and terrifying: The 24 glaciers in the Pyrenees mountain chain between France and Spain “shrank by 23.2%, and thickness decreased by 6.3 m on average” over the past 10 years.
Three of those glaciers, meanwhile, had reduced so radically that they’ve either disappeared entirely, or now blend into the surrounding land masses as non-moving ice. In that state, the ancient floes no longer fit the definition of glaciers.