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Less snow, more greenery: What ails the Alps?

The Alps mountain range known for its snow-capped peaks is dressing up with vegetation; and that is not good news

Climate change is harsh on planet earth much more than one would have thought. And yet, citizens of the planet have not yet woken up to the catastrophe that awaits them. An instance of how climate change can be dangerous has come alive via a comprehensive satellite imagery study of the European Alps.

The satellite imagery study that spans 38 years, that is between 1984 and 2021, brings to the fore how climate change can impact the planet we live in. The imagery has highlighted the manner in which climate change has changed the Alps mountain ranges.

One visible change is that the mountains’ snow caps have melted over the years. That is not all. The imagery shows that the mountain ranges have been rapidly greening, which in other words means that the mountain ranges have become a spot where a great deal of vegetation has grown over the past years. This brings to the spotlight the factors that are directly linked with global warming.

Snow disappearing from the Alps

With humans accelerating the process of global warming through many aspects including the large scale burning of coal, the situation has turned out as leading to catastrophic events in the future.  The study which has been published in the Science journal terms the change in scenario with a title that reads “From White to Green”. Climate change impact has been showing up through large scale heating up of the earth and rapid increase in rainfall.

These have led to the melting of snow and sprouting of plants on the Alps, thereby giving the mountains a green garb. Think deeper and the Alps are not the spots where plants grow. Vegetation has been growing fast atop the mountain range where normally snow is the only feature, and it could prove bad in terms of global weather conditions.

The snow-capped Alps

Alps biodiversity under pressure

Scientists are of the opinion that the changing situation could prove hazardous for the biodiversity of the Alps. With the change in environmental conditions along the Alps, the specialized species of plants could lose their advantage and would be outcompeted. This in turn would be bringing the biodiversity of the Alps under unfathomable pressure.

Though many would feel that greenery is good, it may not be so when it comes to the normally snow-capped Alps. As greenery on the mountain range tends to reflect less amounts of sunlight, warming could intensify. All the snow left on the mountain tops would also melt and the snow cover would be gone even before one realises it.  The extra vegetation now growing atop the Alps could only lead to a phenomenon of added melting of snow.

The warming process is set to hike in the ensuing days, and Europe’s much loved Alps is facing a hassle hitherto unseen. Who all are responsible, begets only one answer – the irresponsible citizens of Planet Earth.

Sanjeev Ramachandran

A journalist with 23 years of experience, Sanjeev has worked with reputed media houses such as Business Standard, The Ne More »

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