In the 19th century and up to the start of the 20th century, the glacier at the source of the Rhone stretched as far as the valley floor by Gletsch and could at times be seen by guests at the Grand Hotel Glacier du Rhône. A visit to the ice grotto by the Hotel Belvédère and the emerging glacial lake is still worthwhile today.
During the last ice age, the Rhone Glacier was the dominant glacier in the Alps, covering a significant part of Switzerland. Over the next 11,500 years or so, the glacier, which forms the headwaters of the Rhone River, has been shrinking and growing again in response to shifts in climate.
Since the opening of the modern-day Furka pass road 150 years ago, thousands of tourists have come to see the unique mountain panorama around the Rhone Glacier. Today they park at the Hotel Belvédère and walk about 200 metres to the entrance of the ice grotto, which is re-drilled each year. The glacier looks whitish-grey, but inside the 100m long tunnel and the ice chamber it glows in magically fine shades of blue.
The glacier moves 30-40 metres each year, sometimes more than 10cm per day. A lot of ice also melts in summer – while the ice grotto is more than 100m long at the start of the season in June, by the end of the summer it is reduced to 70m. The panoramic glacier viewing platform will soon be joined by the new glacial lake platform, as a new lake forms at the end of the glacier.
GLAMOS – Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland
These picture comparisons show how fast the Rhône Glacier has lost its length and mass in recent years: SwissGlaciers.org
The Swiss Glacier Monitoring Network systematically documents and observes long-term glacier changes in the Swiss Alps. GLAMOS is jointly operated by ETH Zurich and the Universities of Fribourg and Zurich and is in close contact with the Expert Commission for Cryosphere Measurement Networks (EKK). The work is secured by financial support from the Federal Office for the Environment FOEN, MeteoSwiss in the framework of GCOS Switzerland and the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT) and is significantly supported by swisstopo, the Federal Office of Topography.
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Switzerland is a mountainous Central European country, home to numerous lakes, villages and the high peaks of the Alps. Its cities contain landmarks like capital Bern’s Zytglogge clock tower and Lucerne’s wooden chapel bridge.
The country is also known for its ski resorts and hiking trails. Banking and finance are key industries, and Swiss watches and chocolate are world renowned.
Here’s the weather for the capitol city. Go to Dark Sky and input any other destination of your choice to get a detailed weather prognosis. There’s also a weather time machine, providing you backcasts for the experienced past and forecasts for the predicted future.Bern, Switzerland WEATHER