A rocky Alpine path between two glaciers in Switzerland has been seen for what the local ski resort says is the first time in at least 2,000 years.
Three times the 10-year average ice melt occurred at Glacier 3000 in western Switzerland during what has been a record European summer heatwave.
Standing on what was once an icy peak, Swiss hiker Rene Baltisberger described the conditions as “very disturbing”, adding that in some places “virtually everything is gone, down to the ground”.
Mauro Fischer, a Glaciologist at University of Bern, said the “exceptional” circumstances are beyond anything he has witnessed over his decade surveying the glacier.
“To be honest, what I have observed this year was really shocking to me and it's made me feel very sad,” he said.
“I’m also a bit scared because these very high mass losses and the fast glacier shrinkage we observed this year, this is just a sign actually, the glacier is telling you how the meteorological conditions were over this year.
“Such a warm summer, such a dry summer, is actually something we're going to have much more frequently also in the future."
Alps on track for biggest mass loss in 60 years
Bare rock can now be seen between the Scex Rouge and the Zanfleuron glaciers at an altitude of 2,800 metres and the pass will be completely exposed by the end of this month.
"Ten years ago ... I still measured about 15 metres of ice. So more than 15 metres of ice and snow have melted during the past 10 years here," Mr Mauro Fische said.
"And actually, the path is not an ice path connection two glaciers anymore but, now, it is separating the two glaciers from each other."
Since last winter, which brought relatively little snowfall, the Alps have sweltered through two big early summer heatwaves.
The Alps' glaciers are now on track for their biggest mass losses in at least 60 years of record-keeping, data showed.
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