Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Dry snow in the Alps: It has lasted little for 600 years. It’s drought alert again


Winter sports could disappear and mountain landscapes could change dramatically. The duration of snowfall in the Alps has been reduced by more than a month and 36 days, compared to the average for the past 600 years. This is indicated by Italian research published in Nature Climate Changes which was able for the first time to reconstruct the history of the duration of snow cover by going back to 1400 and analyzing the growth rings of the common juniper which, over the centuries, has adapted to the climate.

“Between 1400 and 1900 the mass of snow was at fairly stable levels but now, for several decades, there has been a continuous descent – explains Marco Carrere, from the University of Padua, first author of the study as Raffaella Dibona and Angela Luisa Brenden, together with Michele Brunetti of the Institute of Sciences Atmosphere and climate in Cnr – an unprecedented deterioration with repercussions not only for mountain ecosystems but also for all human activities that depend on hydrological basins downstream, Shoal del Po was an example. “Our work analyzes historical evolution – added Brunetti – But it is possible to imagine, given possible future scenarios and on the basis of other studies, a further decline between now and the end of the century between 26 and 76 days. What we can see with our own eyes today is that water basins and water stocks are never enough, nor Even to create artificial snow on the ski slopes. And who knows if they will be enough to store water next summer, avoiding the risk of new droughts. 2022 has been identified as the hottest year on record, but 2023 is likely to be even hotter. It’s alerted by the UK’s National Weather Service (MET), which predicts global temperatures will rise by an average of 1.2 degrees.

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If the predictions turn out to be correct, the global warming race will lead the world towards the 10th year in a row that human-caused thermal anomalies have recorded temperatures above 1 degree. A drought plan should be developed and implemented taking into account the gradual deterioration of the situation. At the moment, the regions that were among the hardest hit last summer are being compensated. Agriculture Minister Francesco Lollobrigida has just signed the decrees to support agribusiness in Lombardy, Piedmont, Calabria and Puglia.

Tourism Minister Daniela Santanche – who is lobbying for artificial snow on the ski slopes to save the season – suggests that “artificially produced snow be returned to agriculture: after months of drought, a virtuous circle is already being created. Policy must have a long-term vision, but today we need to think In the Apennines, where white tourism in terms of turnover accounted for the lion’s share.

Furthermore, a project by Enea, University of Cagliari, CRS4, and Mutah University (Jordan), aims to replace chemical fertilizers with microorganisms and bacteria capable of promoting plant growth even in dry periods, improving soil functions and agricultural production. “We have shown that fertilization with a natural and endemic microbial composition specific to the site – confirms researcher Enya Chiara Alessi – can replace the chemical compound and improve agricultural practices that often depend on the intensive use of fertilizers and the exploitation of water resources, causing soil depletion “.


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