Heatwave smashes Swiss Alps temperature record

AFP - [email protected]
Heatwave smashes Swiss Alps temperature record
This photograph taken near Gletsch, in the Swiss Alps, on July 8, 2022 shows insulating foam covering a part of the Rhone Glacier to prevent it from melting. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

Switzerland, which is caught in Europe's extreme heatwave, has seen freezing point rise way above its highest summits, smashing a record set 27 years ago, meteorologists said on Monday.


Scientists say human-induced climate change is amplifying the record heatwaves seen in several parts of the planet in recent weeks.

Weather balloons rose to 5,184 metres (17,008 feet) above the Alpine country overnight before they found freezing point (0 degrees Celsius, 32 degrees Fahrenheit), MeteoSwiss said in a tweet.

That was nearly 70 metres higher than the previous Swiss record of 5,117 metres, measured on July 20, 1995, and 375 metres above the summit of Europe's highest peak, Mont Blanc in the French Alps. It is extremely rare for the freezing point to be measured above 5,000 metres in Europe.


Leading Swiss glaciologist Matthias Huss warned this month that rising temperatures were causing freshwater glaciers to melt faster than ever.

"Glaciers in the Alps are so completely off from what we've seen before. I'm really alarmed by the situation," he tweeted on July 17.

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"The measurements collected at Griesgletscher today show that even with respect to the previous record in 2003 we're one month ahead with melting. And no relief in sight."

Global warming is also pushing wild species that live in cold climes further up the mountains to survive.

When they reach the summits, they have nowhere to go.

The international community has agreed that climate change poses an existential threat to human systems and the natural world -- but there are a myriad ways to take action.

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Meteorologists determine the zero-degree limit above Switzerland using weather balloons launched twice a day from Payerne, in the west of the country, the RTS public broadcaster said French meteorologists also measured 0C above 5,000 metres on Sunday over Bordeaux (5,056 metres) in the west.

The warm air then moved east towards the Alps, MeteoSwiss said.


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