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Rhone Glacier covered in protective blanket to slow melting

Global warming takes a toll on popular tourist destination in Swiss Alps

The Rhone Glacier has been dramatically retreating over the past 150 years because of global warming, so in an effort to slow the melting during summer months, scientists in Switzerland take extreme measures by covering it with a protective white blanket. Each summer, scientists lay down miles of the protective layer over the ancient ice, according to the UK Daily Mail and NBC News. GeoBeats News has a report:

The Rhone Glacier, the source of the Rhone River located at an elevation of 6,000 feet, is a popular tourist destination, as researchers cut a tunnel through the ice each summer so visitors can get a close-up look at the glacier.

The UK Daily Mail explains:

The innovative method of protecting the ice has also been designed to allow visitors to witness the incredible ancient ice from an entirely unique perspective.

 

Researchers have carved a tunnel inside the glacier, large enough to walk through, allowing people to almost step back in time into a world which has not been exposed for many thousands of years.

 

Samples of ice had previously pre-dated the glacier to at least the 17th century. But new technological advances, coupled with access to recently exposed rock, have now allowed them to date the ancient structure to at least 11,500 years old.

How many more years it has left remains to be seen. Hopefully by protecting the ice from the summer heat, it’ll last a bit longer than it would otherwise.

rhone glacier wikimedia commons

A tunnel in Rhone Glacier. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.