National and regional story (Slovenia) - The Slovenian Alps tomorrow – extreme weather events and disappearing glaciers
Climate change is endangering the Alpine region more than the rest of Europe.
Figure 2: Triglav glacier extent in ha
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Glaciers and snow cover as indicators of climate change
There are only two small glaciers in Slovenia, the best known being the Triglav glacier and the second situated on the slopes of Mount Skuta. Both lie at a relatively low altitude and are subject to the detectable impact of climatic changes. The existence of the Triglav glacier can no longer be taken for granted. In the 19th century, it covered 45 ha but significantly contracted in 2003, when it encompassed only 0.7 ha, and in September 2008 extended over 1.1 ha.
The accumulation of fresh snow increases with altitude and precipitation, and thus the areas of maximum fresh snow accumulation are found in the Julian Alps. Nevertheless, huge amounts of fresh snow are rare in the Upper Soča Valley despite significant precipitation there in winter. Due to the influence of the Mediterranean climate, very little snow falls in the lower parts of that region. The seasonal maximum depth of total snow cover is another important climatic variable. The relative variability is greater in areas with lower values because the snowfall in these areas is less regular than at higher altitudes.
The depth increases with altitude, reaching about 2 metres at 1000 m and more than 5 metres in the highest parts of the country. At our highest station, Kredarica, at 2514 m a.s.l., a maximum depth of exactly 7 metres was measured in April 2001. Yet the conditions in the lowlands west of the main Dinaric ridge are completely different. Snowfall there is of short duration and frequency, because that area is under a strong Mediterranean influence.