Meanwhile, some have resorted to covering glaciers in protective blankets to stop them from melting in the summer. Made out of white UV-resistant synthetic material, the blankets shield the thick winter snow from the Sun’s rays during the warmer summer months. According to a 2021 study, the technique can reduce the melting of snow and ice by 50-70%, compared to unprotected surfaces.
But it is a costly process, the study’s authors warn. Covering all of Switzerland’s 1,000 largest glaciers would cost about 1.4bn Swiss Francs ($1.5bn; £1.2bn) annually, they estimate.
There are also negative environmental consequences associated with this adaptation measure, warns Cavitte. Polluting machines are used to put the blankets down and remove them. “And when they take them off, there’s always pieces of plastic that are left behind which contaminate the glacier and surrounding land,” she says….