These two images show Floitenkees Glacier above Greizer Hütte in the Floitengrund (the valley of the Floitenbach) above the town of Ginzling in the upper reaches of the Zillertal (the Ziller valley) above Mayrhofen in the Austrian land of Tirol. The upper image is from a postcard from the early 1900s, and the lower image is from a photograph taken in 1999.
The two images, while not providing exactly the same perspective, show the extent to which the Floitenkees receded between the early 1900s and 1999. In the upper image, which shows the Greizer Hütte, the Floitenkees has a valley glacier that flows down behind the Greizer Hütte. In the 1999 image, which was taken from behind the Greizer Hütte, the ice stops before it even enters the valley.
The significance of sequential images like these documenting glacial retreat is that they provide natural non-instrumental evidence of global warming. Skeptics of global warming argue that world climate is not getting warmer, and that instrumental (thermometer) records of rising temperatures are only the result of increasing temperatures at busy airports and in urban heat islands. Retreating glaciers, however, are not at airports or in urban heat islands, and so cannot by so easily dismissed by those skeptics. The retreat of these glaciers, which is widespread around the world, is independent evidence of global warming.
Acknowledgments: The upper image was kindly provided to me by Mr. Barry Vaughan. The lower image was kindly provided by Dipl.-Ing. Thorsten Kunkel of Munich and is part of a larger image from his Zillertal hiking page on his impressive website
This page is part of the Tirol Glacier Image Collection Project.
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