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Hagg, Wilfried; Scotti, Riccardo; Villa, Fabio; Mayer, Elisabeth; Heilig, Achim; Mayer, Christoph; Tamm, Wennemar; Hock, Tassilo (2017): Evolution of two cirque glaciers in Lombardy and their relation to climatic factors (1962–2016). In: Geografiska Annaler: Series A, Physical Geography, Vol. 99, No. 4: pp. 371-386
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Abstract

In order to assess the climate–glacier relationship in the Southern European Alps, two small glaciers in Lombardy, Suretta Sud and Lupo, have been chosen for investigation. GPS profiling in 2016 allowed the determination of elevation changes since 2007 and thus the determination of the glacier mass balance using the geodetic method. Older maps have been digitized to reconstruct mass changes back to 1962. The two glaciers react synchronously and show overall mass losses, but the narrower observation pattern at Suretta Sud reveals positive mass changes from 1970 to 1982. Long-term meteorological series of precipitation and air temperature of representative stations have been analysed, they show highly significant warming trends of 0.32–0.40°C per decade during summer, but no significant trend in winter precipitation. Since 2009/2010, annual mass balance measurements applying the glaciological method were undertaken by the Servizio Glaciologico Lombardo. These annual observations reveal that, despite the decadal mass loss observed by geodetic observations, years with positive mass changes still occur. These years showed below average winter precipitation and below average summer temperatures, indicating that glacier behaviour is influenced by both parameters. Ice thicknesses observed by echo radio sounding allow to calculate glacier volume and the bedrock topography. Maximum ice thicknesses are around 40 m and the cirques are not overdeepened by glacial erosion. Using very simple extrapolations of observed rates of downwasting results in theoretical life expectancies of these glacierets of 50–70 yr.