Glaciers both support the ski resorts and attract mountaineers and hikers in the summer.
Glaciers, which are of vital importance such as water supply, are now in danger.
In Switzerland, for example, you would expect to see ice at 3,000 meters above sea level. But above the village of Les Diablerets, where the cable car company Glacier 3000 operates, there are now huge areas of bare rock.
EUROPE UNDER THREAT: WE ARE POSSIBLY THE FIRST PEOPLE TO WALK HERE
Two glaciers, Tsanfleuron and Scex Rouge, broke apart, revealing ground unseen for thousands of years.
“We’re probably the first people to walk here,” said Bernhard Tschannen, who runs the company.
Melting glaciers also reveal long-held secrets. This summer, the wreckage of an airplane that crashed in 1968 came out of the Aletsch glacier. The bodies of climbers, who had been missing for decades but were perfectly preserved by the ice, were also discovered.
But the consequences of ice loss are much wider than damage to local tourism or finding missing climbers.
Glaciers are often referred to as the water towers of Europe.
They store winter snow and release it during the summer, provide water for Europe’s rivers and crops, and use it to cool its nuclear power plants.
Just this summer, freight was interrupted along the Rhine in Germany. Because the water level is too low for heavily loaded barges. In Switzerland, dying fish are hastily rescued from rivers that are too shallow and too hot.
Nuclear power plants in France and Switzerland had to reduce their capacity as the water to cool them was limited.