The Italian Almanac


Italian News - August 14

“It’s a bad season for Alpine glaciers.Yet again, they are in the worst possible situation”. Walter Maggi, a geologist from Milan’s Bicocca University, sounds almost despairing as he talks about the conditions of the ever-higher mountain ice fields. The retreat of the ice is allowing vegetation to grow back,which means that summer skiing is no longer an option.

This has happened in Alto Adige, where the message “Pistes closed until 27 August” appeared on the Val Senales glacier.It was the first time in thirty years. There was a similarly negative situation at the Tonale pass, where ski lifts have been closed since 10 July. In the resort’s heyday, they would stay open until mid-August.At Marmolada in the Dolomites, the season never even began, and controversy rages over work on the final stretch of cableway. Things are a little better only on Mount Stelvio, where many of Italy’s international skiing teams train, and at Cervinia.

Glacial retreat has been the subject of discussion for several years. Anyone who has holidayed in the mountains will be aware of the phenomenon. Yet until the middle of the nineteenth century, the Italian Alps showed evident signs of the minor glaciation the planet was experiencing. From Courmayeur to Cortina, there are accounts with detailed descriptions. Then came change, and the inversion to a warmer period,except for brief interludes around the 1920s and towards the end of the 1970s. However, their impact was short-lived and the rise in temperatures resumed.