- Title: Italian town makes plans for impending glacier collapse due to climate change
- Date: 25th September 2019
- Summary: SCREEN WITH IMAGES OF GLACIER
- Embargoed: 9th October 2019 20:47
- Keywords: COURMAYEUR CITY MOUNTAIN GLACIER TOWN MEETING
- Location: COURMAYEUR, ITALY
- City: COURMAYEUR, ITALY
- Country: Italy
- Topics: Environment
- Reuters ID: LVA002AY5QXC7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Dozens of people living close to a glacier in Mont Blanc massif, which is threatening to collapse, attended a meeting on Wednesday (September 25) to discuss possible situations of the collapse.
The town meeting was organized by the mayor of nearby town Courmayeur and regional and scientific authorities.
During the meeting, authorities monitoring the Planpincieux glacier detailed the three potential scenarios: a collapse of the glacier and its 250,000 cubic meters of ice in one go, a collapse bit by bit over time, or it staying put; if temperatures get cold enough again. However, this scenario is not expected to happen before November or December.
Experts believe a section of this Planpincieux glacier, estimated to contain up to 250,000 cubic meters of ice could fall down the mountain.
The mayor of Courmayeur has ordered the closure of two roads and the evacuation of huts on the mountain, which is 4,800 meters (5,250 yards) high, after scientists said the glacier was sliding at an increased speed, threatening part of the Ferret Valley.
Experts have been monitoring the glacier closely since 2013 to detect the speed at which the ice is melting, but they are unable to predict when the ice would break away.
Between the end of August and the beginning of September the lower part of the glacier was sliding at a speed of 50-60 cm (20 -24 inches) per day.
Some owners of bars, hotels and restaurant, whose buildings are located along the closed road, said it's fortunate it's the end of the season and understood the need for preventive measures.
Others expressed concerns over the fast changing environment of the mountain, with temperatures increasing.
"It is everyone's problem, it is not only Courmayeur's or Chamonix's, this is everyone's problem. We need to have other policies in place, greener policies, and we need to change, we need to change. For sure, something has to change. This is the role of politicians, and we hope they will do so, they need to change", said Guido Riente, who owns a restaurant only accessible by Val Ferret road, which is now closed.
Laurent Cosson, a mountain guide and refugee keeper who has been working on the mountain for twenty years, said routes once travelled by hikers could not be taken anymore, due to the dangers from potential collapse.
Nicole Passino, whose family owns a bar located on the closed road, said she understood the risk of living near a mountain.
"This is part of the mountain, we have to live with this risk and to accept it. During winter, there may be avalanches, snow, we never know if we will be able to go back home in ten or 15 minutes, or half an hour. We live in the mountain, so, we know that", she said.
The closed roads could be partially re-opened at the end of the week to allow hikers and bikers to pass through.
Across the Alps there is concern that warmer temperatures are increasing the danger of melting permafrost and disappearing glaciers.
(Production: Marina Depetris)
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