Alps are rapidly turning green : The disappearing snow cover is visible from space

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(ORDO NEWS) — Climate change has had a global impact, and its effects are visible on the snow-capped peaks of the Alps. A warming planet has set off a vicious cycle that could affect millions of people in Europe.

The researchers found that global warming has had a significant impact on an alpine region similar to that seen in the Arctic.

Using satellite data, the researchers found that the tree line has increased in almost 80 percent of the Alps, and the snow caps are gradually decreasing.

A team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Lausanne and the University of Basel, found that shrinking snow cover is visible from space as being caused by melting glaciers.

They studied snow cover and vegetation using high resolution satellite data from 1984 to 2021.

During this period, plant biomass above the tree line increased over 77 percent of the observed area. This “greening” phenomenon due to climate change is already well documented in the Arctic.

“The scale of change has been extensive in the Alps. Alpine plants are adapted to harsh conditions, but they are not very competitive.

The unique biodiversity of the Alps is therefore under significant pressure,” said lead author Sabine Rumpf.

“Vegetation productivity has increased over more than two-thirds of the area above the tree line, with potential environmental and climate impacts.

The feedback between snow and vegetation is likely to lead to even more pronounced changes in the future,” the researchers said in the paper.

Scientists fear that as global warming continues, the Alps will increasingly turn from white to green, creating a vicious cycle.

Warming is also causing further melting of glaciers and melting of permafrost, which could lead to more landslides, rockfalls and mudflows.

“Greener mountains reflect less sunlight and therefore lead to further warming and, in turn, further reduction in reflective snow cover,” says Rumpf.


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