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CLIMATE | German glaciers shrinking rapidly due to climate change: study

BERLIN, GERMANY — Alpine glaciers in Germany are shrinking rapidly as a consequence of rising global temperatures, a study published on Monday by the ministry for transport and digital infrastructure finds.

According to the study conducted by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, the mass of the five German glaciers along the southern border with Austria had decreased by the fastest rate measured since the 1949/1950 in 2015. The data was originally complied for the internal consumption of the ministry for transport and digital infrastructure but was shared with the public following a parliamentary enquiry by the Green party (Gruene).

In the case of the “Blaueis” and “Suedlicher Schneeferner” glaciers, the acreage covered by ice more than halved during the past fifty years. The Bavarian ministry for the environment has warned that four out of the five glaciers could disappear entirely within the next twenty years, leaving the “Hoellentalferner” field on the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest mountain, as the only remaining glacier in the country.

Alpine temperatures have risen above the global average by around two percent throughout the past 150 years. The development places the economic survival of popular skiing destinations like Garmisch-Partenkirchen at risk, as a lack of natural snow forces growing numbers of winter tourism operators in lower-lying skiing resorts to shut down.

Commenting on the study findings, the Green party criticized that the “grand coalition” established by the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU) and German Social Democrats (SPD) had chosen to hold a special cabinet meeting on the peak of the Zugspitze on Monday whilst failing to tackle climate change.

Green party parliamentary faction leader Anton Hofreiter argued that the “depressing retreat of the glaciers” only underscored the “urgent need” for Berlin to take more effective action on climate change. According to Hofreiter, it was high time that the CDU, CSU and SPD “assumed their responsibility” and started to take the transition to an economy based on renewable energy sources seriously.

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