The great glaciers of the Alps are melting. Several climate change scenarios, some of which are based on an average temperature increase of +4°C, predict their complete disappearance by the end of this century.
- As they retreat, the glaciers uncover cavities; these fill with melt-water, becoming lakes.
- The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is funding a research project on the risks and possibilities of these new mountain lakes. Anton Schleiss, director of EPFL’s Hydraulic Constructions Laboratory, is participating in a project to analyse different options for how we can take advantage of these new natural reservoirs to produce electricity.
This project aims to inform where to invest in infrastructure in order to capitalise on the effect of climate change. Whilst the disappearance of the glaciers is undesirable, IPCC projections suggest it is unavoidable. Although the UK does not have glaciers, this insight highlights that adaptation to climate change involves finding opportunities in the new conditions. The work developed by the SNSF is at the forefront of climate change adaptation, setting the example.