The quote above by Bernhard Niedermoser, of the Austrian Central Institute for Climate Research and Geodynamics (ZAMG), is reported here in the Austrian Times as part of a short article on a new report looking at the impact of climate change in this part of Europe over the next 50 to 100 years.
If their analysis is correct the Alps are going to get hotter springs and summers with more sun and less rain. The good news for the winter tourism industry (or at least those operating on the higher resorts) is that winters will bring higher levels of snow. This last item is of particular interest as previous reports I’ve seen has suggested that the Alp would see less snow – our understanding of climate changing is developing all the time.
What remains consistent in the report is that despite the increased snow the Alpine glaciers, which play an important role in the supply of water across central Europe, are in trouble. To complete Bernhard Niedermoser quote in my headline “….because it is the summer that controls their fate, it doesn’t matter how much snow falls, it is always the summer that is crucial.”
A few images from the Dachstein glacier:
I’m never really sure what to expect when taking a cable car with the skiers to the top of a mountain. My previous experiences have included finding myself with no choice other than to slide down a ski slope to get to the walking path half a mile away, standing in a blizzard dodging snowboarders or more often finding myself sitting in a hut with a coffee whilst looking out upon the landscape below. However, the Dachstein glacier provided the family with the chance to enjoy a walk across some truly beautiful scenery.
It took a little while for me to drive the car up the icy road to the cable car station. Whilst the locals and regular skiers negotiated the mountain road with skill and speed, our car ascended with the speed of an ancient tortoise. The ease with which I could observe the views below and the way in which the wheels of my car kept sliding towards the outer edge of the road produced an endless commentary from yours truly and a driving technique reminiscent of a newly qualified driver. From the way most other vehicles were taking the road my inexperience in such conditions was probably making hard work of the drive but at least I felt better doing it my way and reaching our destination in one piece.
After leaving the cable car station and negotiating our way past the ski slopes, we found ourselves able to walk across the glacier and enjoying a landscape of snow, mountain tops and below us the ever shifting clouds.
On returning to the cable car station we quickly found a seat in the restaurant for the obligatory coffee and strudel.