Elmer/Ice News

How glaciers would look like today in a world without Us?

clauzel2023This work aims to quantify the anthropogenic impact on the Argentière Glacier with respect to changes related to climate natural variability. We use a detection-attribution approach to produce retrospective ensemble simulations of the climate and the glaciers, with and without greenhouse gasses and aerosol forcings over 1850–2014. The time of emergence of the anthropogenic signal, that is, the date when it becomes statistically distinguishable from climate natural variability, occurs in 1979 for temperature in the Argentière location, with warming reaching 1.35°C in 2014 relative to 1850. The emergence of the anthropogenic signal occurs later for the glacier changes: the snout position is still compatible with natural variability in 2014, whereas for the glacier mass change, it occurred in 2008, ∼30 years after that of the temperature. In 2014, 66% [21%–111%] of the total mass loss since 1850 can be attributed to anthropogenic activities, a result that is dependent on the natural variability estimated from the climate model used in this study. The combination of increasing concentration of greenhouse gasses and decreasing aerosols in the atmosphere led to an acceleration of the glacier retreat over the last 3 decades.

Read more: Clauzel L., M. Ménégoz, A. Gilbert, O. Gagliardini, D. Six, G. Gastineau and C. Vincent, 2023. Sensitivity of glaciers in the European Alps to anthropogenic atmospheric forcings: Case study of the Argentière Glacier. Geophysical Research Letters, 50, e2022GL100363. DOI:10.1029/2022GL100363

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