Austrian glaciers see large retreat in 2015

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The hot Austrian summer of 2015 has led to a large retreat of the country's glaciers, an expert in the field said on Friday.

Speaking at the Glacier Report 2014-2015 held by the Austrian Alpine Club (OeAV) in Innsbruck, glaciologist Dr. Andrea Fischer said 88 of the 92 observed glaciers had retreated over the course of a year, three by over 100 meters. A further three remained stationary, while only one grew.

For the recorded year 2014-2015 the glaciers retreated an average 22.6 meters, significantly higher than a year prior and with only 2003 and 2007 in a similar range, it was stated.

Worst-effected was the Hornkees glacier in the Zillertal Alps that retreated 136 meters, while the Gepatschferner in the Oetztal Alps retreated 121.5 meters, and the Taschachferner in the Pitztal region ended up 101 meters shorter.

No glacial retreats of over 100 meters had been recorded in the year 2013-2014.

Fischer said the average temperatures recorded on the summit stations from October 2014 to September 2015 were 2.3 degrees Celsius over the long-term average.

"Long lasting high-pressure situations and the lack of summer snowfall are the recipe for a much-too-warm year, and the reason for the glacial retreats," the glaciologist said.

She said this trend would continue in the coming decades as the glaciers were not yet in equilibrium with the prevailing climate situation.

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