Yikes — Alpine Glaciers Are Melting So Much That WWI Tunnels Are Being Exposed

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Nov. 9 2021, Published 12:46 p.m. ET

Usually, when ice, permafrost, and glaciers melt as a result of global warming, it generally reveals nothing but mud, frozen grass, and obviously, quite a bit of water. But historians were simultaneously terrified and excited when a melting alpine glacier revealed artifacts from WWI. Tunnels and bunkers that had been buried for almost a century were discovered as a result of the deteriorating northern European mountains. So what does this mean for the Alps' other 4,000 glaciers in the long run?

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"A century on, the glacier that once entombed the bunker in the Italian Alps has largely melted as a result of global warming. This frozen depository of the past now carries a stark warning for the future as leaders at #COP26 deliberate how to try to put a brake on climate change," Telegraph World News tweeted.

Take a look at their findings in the video, below — although it's been quite a fascinating find, it's ultimately devastating for the environment.

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Alpine glaciers have melted to reveal historical artifacts from WWI.

During COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, military historian Giovanni Cadioli and professor Stefano Morosini discovered a snow-covered WWI bunker at Mount Scorluzzo, which sits along Italian-Swiss border in Stelvio National Park. Although conditions were frigid, the bunker was exposed due to ice recession. Cadoli discovered century-old lanterns, food tins, beds, bullet casings, and tools, as per The Telegraph. All of it had been preserved in ice, though that wouldn't have been the case for long.

“A hundred years ago this mountain was part of a glacier, you would only be able to see the rocks on the warmest days of August,” Cadioli told The Telegraph. “This is no longer the case. The glacier has retreated, the ice is melting and so places like this, which were frozen solid in time for 100 years, are coming back to life... These places not only conserve all sorts of artifacts but botanical, entomological and glaciological traces of how life used to be 100 years ago."

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Glaciers have been quickly disappearing over the last few years — Platigliole, for example, once towered over the other glaciers during WWI, but now it no longer exists. As Scorluzzo recedes to reveal previously buried artifacts, many wonder what could happen with greenhouse gas emissions on the rise.

"... the way things are going now, 90 percent of glacier mass in the Alps will be lost by 2100. Some will disappear altogether, ” environmental scientist Davide Fugazza told The Telegraph.

Alps WWI
Source: Getty Images

circa 1914: A group of Alpine Infantry soldiers camped at the foot of Mount Vilau in the Italian Alps during World War I. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

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The alps have been melting at an alarming rate for years.

In 2019, it was noted that the French Alps were rapidly deteriorating when alpinist Bryan Mestre recorded that a brand new 30-meter lake had formed on Mont Blanc, the range's highest mountain that measures in at 11,100 feet in altitude. The lake disappeared a little over a week later, but it just goes to show how inconsistent our weather is — and will continue to be — if the climate crisis continues to affect our planet, as it is.

"I'm not a scientist but it's obvious that it's a direct effect of the heatwave that [struck] Europe in June. As you can see, the rock is black in this massif, so it probably acted as a solar oven melting everything that was close to it," Mestre told Green Matters at the time.

That said, if the Alps are on your bucket list, you may want to hit them up before they've totally disappeared.

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