Saharan dust accelerating Alpine Glacier melt

View from the Gornergrat, August 2022

A covering of Saharan dust and sand is visible on glaciated areas at high elevation this year, transported over Europe by wind in the earlier part of the season, and shown in the pinkish tinge in the above photograph.

Sand and dust covering will accelerate ice melt, as it lowers the surface albedo (the reflectance of the surface) from a typical value of 0.9 for snow and ice. This phenomenon has been observed elsewhere in the European Alps by several scientists. For a selection of links see here:

Globe Echo: Saharan Sand Makes Glaciers Melt Faster

Gabbi et al, 2015: Impact of Saharan Dust and Black Carbon on Glacier Mass Balance

Harvard Gazette: Climate Change Affects Saharan Dust Storms

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