Glaciers and global warming  (by Stan Sykora)
Courmayeur Glacier: gone
Courmayeur Glacier: retreating headline

This glacier descends Mont Blanc towards Italy. It is a twin of the Glacier des Bossons on the French side, but what a difference! On these sunny slopes, global warming has melted most of the ice mass, leaving behind just a dry gravel bed.

Courmayeur, Italy, September 15, 2007.
See also: Scenic Mont Blanc and Mont Blanc album.
Google map of the area

What you see in the composite picture is the gravel bed of what was once a mighty glacier. It continues on the left for another half a kilometer before meeting the river at the bottom of the valley. The remainder of the glacier is barely visible in the upper right corner of the composition (just below the edge).
The photo on the left is a view from the center of Val Veny (the valley with the river) towards the upper part of the glacier. From this privileged direction, the head of the glacier looks still marvelous and mighty. But it is only a question of time before it will be gone completely. I vacationed in this area in 1969 and can testify to the fact that then, less than 40 years ago, the glacier head was in the valley, only meters away from the river. All the gray gravel you see today was then covered by a cascade of blueish, shining ice tens of meters deep.
The Google map of the area shows very clearly that all the south-oriented alpine glaciers are meeting the same fate; what remains of them today is 20-50% of what there was just half a century ago. By the way, the tips of the two-pronged fork of an ex-glacier bed at the bottom-center of the Google shot are visible also in the composite picture (center-top, behind the river).
A true cemetery of dead glaciers!

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