The permafrost nougat that lies on top of the nutty rock centre of the great European Toblerone ranges is starting to melt, according to a group called Permafrost and Climate in Europe (PACE), which is conducting a Europe-wide monitoring of permafrost in mountain peaks.
The zones of most danger are Alpine mountains in Switzerland, Austria, France, Germany and Italy, and the risk of rock falls and mudslides as a result of melting permafrost would be greatest in August, September and October, says Charles Harris of Cardiff University. This is because the slopes are very steep and densely populated. They calculate that temperatures in rock and mud in the Swiss Alps have increased by 0.5°C to 1.0°C in the past 15 years. The team blame global warming for the temperature increase.
“The combination of ground temperatures only slightly below zero, high ice contents and steep slopes makes mountain permafrost particularly vulnerable to even small climate changes,” says a new Pace report.
With Britain hitting another flood warning this weekend after rapid snowfall melt it’s getting harder to ignore that the weather really is going haywire. We hope everyone who spray painted their bike (and anything behind it) with a can of ‘Holts Auto Finish’ when they were a kid – like we did – is now feeling guilty.