MILAN (AP) — A glacier in the Italian Alps is melting at such an accelerated pace that the mayor of a nearby village was forced to close a mountain road. The mayor of Courmayeur, Stefano Miserocchi, ordered the closure of access to the Val Ferret road, within a popular area for mountaineers in the Mont Blanc massif.
Caution was taken after experts monitoring the huge Planpincieux glacier said they are recording ice displacements of up to 50 centimeters (nearly 20 inches) a day. They warned that a mass of 250,000 cubic meters of the glacier, which measures 1,327 square kilometers (512 square miles), is at risk of collapsing.» There are no ways to know if it will fall in its entirety or in pieces,» the mayor told Sky TG24. «We need to monitor it.» He emphasized that even if a huge chunk falls, there is no danger to the neighbors, but that it was necessary to close access to the nearby road. The glacier is located in the Alps, on the Grande Jorasses peak of the Mont Blanc mountain range, which adjoins Italy, France and Switzerland and is where it is the highest peak in all of Western Europe. Authorities say unusually high temperatures during August and September accelerated the melting of Planpincieux, which has been being monitored since 2013 by the Mountain Security Foundation.The Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, He alerted the world to the possibility of a glacier crash during his address to the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. «It’s an alarm signal we can’t ignore,» he said. Courmayeur was unaffected by the mayor’s orders and no one was evacuated, local mayoral spokesman Moreno Vignolini said on Wednesday. He added that the closed track is mostly used to access summer houses. The mayor met with neighbors and landlords to hear their concerns. Some people were given permission to enter so they can check their properties. A report by the Intergovernmental Commission on Climate Change, published Wednesday, claimed that glaciers around the world with the exception of Greenland and Antarctica are losing 220 billion metric tons a year. He predicts that if nothing is done to reduce gas emissions, the glaciers will shrink by 36% between now and the end of the century, but that smaller glaciers, such as those in the Alps, could lose 80% of their ice by the year 2100.