Photos of the Great Aletsch Glacier

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© Pro Natura Center Aletsch

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Great Aletsch Glacier 1 | 827 kB

Explanation: View from the Eggishorn toward the Jungfrau region, where the accumulation zone of the glacier is located. Above an altitude of 3000 meters (9843 feet), more snow is transformed into ice each year than can melt away. Under the pressure of the newly formed ice and with the assistance of gravity, the entire ice mass below this point starts to flow. At Konkordiaplatz, the ice moves toward the valley at a rate of 200 meters (656 feet) per year.

Great Aletsch Glacier 2 | 903 kB

Explanation: The light rocky areas above the edges of the glacier are clearly visible. They indicate the highest level of the glacier 150 years ago (1859/60). Since then the glacier has “slimmed down” considerably and is now roughly 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) shorter and nearly 300 meters (984 feet) thinner.

Great Aletsch Glacier 3 | 1.1 MB

Explanation: Currently the terminus is retreating at a rate of a good 50 meters (164 feet) per year. The massive melt is also manifested in the amount of meltwater that runs off: during a hot summer, up to 100 cubic meters (3531 cubic feet) of water per second rush from the glacier’s snout - that’s 100,000 liters (26,417 gallons) per second!

Great Aletsch Glacier 4 | 909 kB

Explanation: Wherever the glacier melts, it exposes new land: sand, rubble and gravel. Initially, this soil is infertile, but after only a few years it is colonized by the first pioneer plants.

Great Aletsch Glacier 5 | 1.0 MB

Explanation: The Great Aletsch Glacier seen from Belalp. The Aletsch Forest nature reserve is on the right of the picture. Behind it, the Bettmerhorn and Eggishorn as well as Märjelental valley can be seen.