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Biggest Alpine glacier could disappear by 2100: study

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The mighty Aletsch — the largest glacier in the Alps — could completely disappear by the end of this century if nothing is done to rein in climate change, a study showed Thursday.

A team of researchers in Switzerland has used a cutting-edge simulation to show how the Aletsch Glacier will change as the planet continues to warm, the ETH technical university in Zurich said in a statement.

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The glacier, which covers 86 square kilometers (33 square miles) in the Swiss Alps, and is estimated to hold around 11 billion tonnes of ice, has already seen its tongue recede by about one kilometer (0.6 miles) since the turn of the century.

Scientists are predicting that trend will continue even if the world is able to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement target of capping global warming at “well below” 2 degrees Celsius.

The ETH research team said that even in the best case scenario the glacier would lose 50 percent of its volume and length by year 2100, while in the worst-case scenario, “a couple patches of ice will be all that?s left.”

Aletsch is one of more than 4,000 glaciers — vast, ancient reserves of ice — dotted throughout the Alps, providing seasonal water to millions and forming some of Europe’s most stunning landscapes.

In a study earlier this year, ETH researchers determined that more than 90 percent of those glaciers will disappear by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are left unchecked.

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Thursday’s study meanwhile focused specifically on the impact on the biggest glacier of them all.

– ‘Much more critical’ –

Guillaume Jouvet and Matthias Huss at ETH’s Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology applied 3D glacier model simulations for the ice retreat using different established climate scenarios for Switzerland.

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They show the glacier seen from the Eggishorn and Jungfraujoch peaks, which tower 2,927 and 3,466 meters above sea level, as it rapidly recedes over the coming eight decades.

They focused on three scenarios determined by different concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere, and thus also different levels of global warming.

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Even if warming is limited to below 2C, and the climate is stabilized by 2040, “we have to assume that the Aletsch Glacier will keep retreating until the end of the century,” Jouvet said in the statement, pointing out that large glaciers are very slow to react to climate change.

This, he said, “means both ice volume and length will be reduced by more than half of what they are today”.

If the global community is unable to pull together and effectively limit the planet-warming gases emitted through burning fossil fuels, construction, aviation and mega-farming, the situation for the glacier will be “much more critical”, ETH said.

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If Switzerland’s climate warms by 4-8C by 2100 — an “unfavorable but unfortunately fully realistic scenario” — only “a couple of measly patches of ice” will remain.

And Konkordiaplatz, which is directly below Jungfraujoch and still covered in about 800 meters (half a mile) of ice, will be completely ice-free,” Jouvet said.


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‘Marriage Story’ tops Golden Globes nominations with six

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"Marriage Story," Netflix's heart-wrenching divorce saga, topped the Golden Globe nominations Monday with six nods including best drama, kicking off the race for the Oscars.

"The Irishman," Martin Scorsese's three-and-a-half-hour gangster epic, and "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood," Quentin Tarantino's nostalgic love letter to 1960s Tinseltown, were hot on its heels with five each.

The nominations traditionally see the stars and movies destined for awards success start to break away from the competition -- the Globes are seen as a key bellwether for February's Academy Awards.

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Devin Nunes claims he was ‘stalked’ after reporter asks questions about his role in Trump’s Ukraine scheme

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Rep. Devin Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, claimed Sunday that he was "stalked" at a $15,000-per-plate GOP fundraiser at the luxury Lotte New York Palace Hotel in Manhattan.

In reality, Nunes was approached at the GOP event Saturday by The Intercept's Lee Fang, who asked basic questions about the California Republican's role in President Donald Trump's efforts to pressure the Ukrainian government to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden's son, Hunter.

"Hey, Congressman Nunes. I just wanted to ask you really quickly: What were your calls with Lev Parnas about?" Fang said, referring to an indicted associate of Trump's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. "Were you asking about the effort to investigate Hunter Biden?"

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We’ll ‘come out stronger’: Michelle Obama weighs in on Trump’s ‘surreal’ impeachment

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Former first lady Michelle Obama went on NBC's "Today" on Monday to talk about the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

During her NBC interview, Obama described the Trump impeachment as "surreal" and predicted that the United States would come back stronger afterward.

"I don't think people know what to make of it," she said. "But do I think we can come back from it? Oh yeah."

Obama then put Trump's impeachment in historical perspective.

"We've seen tough times in this country," she said. "You know we've gone through depressions and wars and bombings and terrorist attacks, and we've gone through Jim Crow, and we've always come out stronger. And that's what we have to continue to believe because what's our choice? To ball up in a corner and call it a day? Well that's not fair to this next generation that's coming before us that are counting on us to get this right."

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