Calderone Glacier at Sunrise

October 03, 2012


: Danilo Pivato
Summary Authors: Danilo Pivato; Jim Foster

The photo above shows Calderone glacier in the Apennines mountain range of Italy just after sunrise. This little icefield lies beneath Corno Grande (9,554 ft or 2,912 m), the highest peak in the Apennines. After the wasting away in 1913 of the Corral del Veleta glacier in Spain, the Calderone is considered the southernmost glacier in Western Europe. However, like many glaciers in the Alps and elsewhere in Europe and across the globe, the Calderone is shrinking. In 1794, it had an estimated volume of over 141,258,660 cu ft (4 million cu m), but by 1990, its volume had shrunk to 12,746,158 cu ft (360,931 cu m). During the last century (since about 1920), its volume has been reduced by more than 90 percent and its area by more than 50 percent. Some glaciologists have predicted that it'll completely disappear in a few decades. As the Calderone has withered in size, it's lost respect as well -- now referred to by some glaciologists as a debris-covered glacier or a rock glacier. Nonetheless, it meets the minimum standards by most glaciological groups to be designated a glacier: Ice of at least 0.1 sq km in area, at least 50 m thick, and present continuously for at least ten years. Photo taken on September 22, 2012.