inch by inch transported to the largest glacier in the Alps of ice and debris towards the valley. Aerial photographs show this massive process and the effects of climate change.

By Angelika Jung-Hüttl (Text), and Bernhard Edmaier (photos)

The Aletsch glacier is a giant. It is the largest glacier in the Alps, 22 km long and at the thickest point 900 metres thick. So a colossus is not standing still. The pressure in the huge mass of ice and the force of gravity, forcing it to flow downhill.

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With a speed of up to 200 meters in the year of the Aletsch pushes the glacier down the valley, half a Meter per day. This movement is traced by dark stripes on his rugged back. Glacier researchers call these parallel bands of medium end moraine.

The Flow of the tear in the ice columns, ingestion a part of the rock and rubble of the medial moraine and close again.

(photo: Bernhard Edmaier)

medial moraines are composed of large and small, to totally pounded rock rubble. This debris is high up in the accumulation area of the glacier, where the snow collects and is compacted to ice, steep rock walls of the glacier fell. There he piles Padişahbet up, initially, to Halden at the edge of the glacier.

In the accumulation area of the Aletsch glacier, konkordia Platz, unite three large ice fields.

(photo: Bernhard Edmaier)

There, the debris, however, remains not for long. The flowing ice pulls the shattered rock mass on its edges, such as on a conveyor belt.

As in the accumulation area of the Aletsch glacier several glacier masses to unite together and put together more downhill creep, the side-deposited debris piles, suddenly, in the middle of the Eisstroms – the page

At the end of the Terminus, where the glacier pushes the gorge of the Massa, and the ice melts, it is pushed along the debris so strong that the glacial ice below.

vast quantities of melting water break at the end of the Aletsch glacier, under the ice.

(photo: Bernhard Edmaier)

The rubble seems to swallow up the glacier, but it protects him at the same time. Already a ten-centimeter-thick layer of Debris protects the glacier from melting – and is delayed in this way, the climate-induced retreat of the ice.

The geologist Dirk Scherler from the German research centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam, recorded together with Swiss colleagues, the debris cover of high-mountain glaciers worldwide using satellite images. The findings from this research will help to understand the retreat of the glaciers better.

Also, the Aletsch glacier is suffering from climate change. Be ice sinks at its thickest point, at the Concordia place, per year, to about a Meter, and his tongue at the end of retreats per year, on average, by 23 meters. Since 1860 he has lost about four kilometers in length.