Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Global Warming in the Southern Alps

It's always a bit dubious when non-meteorologists (and many meteorologists) talk about global warming.It's very hard to sort out long term effects from some unusual weather. But I've certainly seen plenty of 'evidence' this year. 

No snow on the Tete de l'Estrop (3000m)
at year's end
Dried up spring near
the Refuge de Boules
The summer and fall have been hot and dry this year but the start of the winter feels more like the start of fall. I've been hiking at 2000 m in shirt sleeves twice since Xmas. It looks more like mid-October here than the end of the year. There is no snow visible in the mountains near St Andre - the nearest seems to be on the Italian border, at around 3000 m, and that's just a dusting. The local ski area has only 4 out of 60 ski runs open, and they all narrow strips of 'artificial' snow on rocky slopes. 

Pine trees are infested by caterpillar nests - caused, I'm told, by warm winters not killing the beasts; see more details hereI know of one spring that has dried up this fall. Primroses are flowering in December. To that I could add the retreating or extinct glaciers I've seen further north in the alps. And then mountains that are literally falling apart as permafrost melts - see here.

I know it's not very scientific but it's not very encouraging for the future.

But on the other hand it's very pleasant for outdoor activities. I've been hiking a lot and have yet to give up bicycling for the winter. I've not flown my paraglider much lately, but people have been flying most days. Some pictures here.