Scientists had previously estimated that the glaciers would be there until the middle of the century. But the melting has accelerated dramatically in recent years.

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German glaciers are melting at a faster rate than expected and the country could lose its last ice caps in 10 years, an alarming report said Thursday.

“The days of glaciers in Bavaria are numbered. And even sooner than expected,” said Thorsten Glauber, environment minister for the southern region, home to Germany’s ice-covered Alps. “The last Bavarian alpine glacier could disappear in 10 years.”

Scientists had previously estimated that the glaciers would be there until the middle of the century. But the melting has accelerated dramatically in recent years.

Located in the Zugspitze region and in the Berchtesgaden Alps, the five German glaciers have lost about two-thirds of their volume over the past decade. Their area has also decreased by a third, or around 36 football pitches.

Sending a stern warning about global warming, Glauber stressed that glaciers are “not just a monument to Earth’s history in the form of snow and ice.”

“These are thermometers for the state of our climate,” he added.

A global study released Wednesday found that nearly all of the world’s glaciers are losing mass at an ever-increasing rate, contributing more than a fifth of the world’s sea level rise this century.

An international team of researchers analyzing images taken by a NASA satellite said that between 2000 and 2019, the world’s glaciers were losing an average of 267 billion tonnes of ice each year – enough to submerge Switzerland under six meters of water. water every year.

The report was released as German meteorologists said April had been the coldest in four decades.

As elsewhere in Europe, Germany has experienced wild weather in recent years. After a winter in which temperatures plunged well below zero in February, the mercury rose to 25.9 degrees on April 1 before sliding over 15 degrees for much of the rest of the month.

Environmentalists blame global warming for the changes and have urged governments to do more to stop the damaging trend.

As part of the 2015 Paris Agreement, countries aim to keep global temperature rise below two degrees Celsius, and ideally closer to 1.5 degrees, by 2050.

Climate activists won a historic victory on Thursday in a case against the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel, as the Constitutional Court ruled Berlin’s environmental protection plan insufficient.