What is the trend in the mass and volume of glaciers across Europe?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CLIM 007

Key messages

(29 Nov 2016)

  • The vast majority of glaciers in the European glacial regions are in retreat. Glaciers in the European Alps have lost approximately half of their volume since 1900, with clear acceleration since the 1980s.
  • Glacier retreat is expected to continue in the future. It has been estimated that the volume of European glaciers will decline between 22 and 84 % compared with the current situation by 2100 under a moderate greenhouse gas forcing scenario, and between 38 and 89 % under a high forcing scenario.
  • Glacier retreat contributed to global sea level rise by about 0.8 mm per year in 2003–2009. It also affects freshwater supply and run-off regimes, river navigation, irrigation and power generation. Furthermore, it may cause natural hazards and damage to infrastructure.

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