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          These three images show the Grosser Möseler mountain peak, the Furtschaglkees Glacier, and Furtschaglhaus Hütte in the Schlegeisgrund in the upper reaches of the Zillertal (the Ziller valley) above Mayrhofen in the Austrian land of Tirol. The upper two images are from postcards from the early 1900s, and the lower image is from a postcard produced in 1995.

          The three images show the extent to which the Furtschaglkees receded between the early 1900s and 1995. In the images from the early 1900s, ice extends well below the large outcrop of rock at the left side of the images. It also extends well below the "island" of rock in the middle of the images. In the 1995 image, ice only comes down to about the base of the mass of rock of the left, and areas of base rock almost reach the aforementioned central "island".

          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.

 

 

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Acknowledgments: The images from the early 1900s come from postcards on a webpage by Jörg Robrecht, Auf der Heide 6, 33039 Nieheim - Entrup, Germany. The 1995 image is from a postcard produced by H. Heiss of Baumkirchen, Tirol. If all goes well, a new image will be acquired by LBR in Summer 2004.


This page is part of the Tirol Glacier Image Collection Project.


e-mail to Railsback (rlsbk@gly.uga.edu)
Railsback's Alpine & Glacial Geology course web page
Railsback's main web page
UGA Geology Department web page