Artículo | 09 Feb, 2021

Why are glaciers important and how can we protect them?

Listen to Jean-Baptiste Bosson as he shares his passion for the planet’s icy giants at a talk organised by TEDxZürich in December 2020.

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Photo: TED

Glaciers are keystones of Life on Earth. As giant freshwater reservoirs, they support the planet’s life systems and influence our day-to-day lives, even for communities who live far away from them. However, glaciers are disappearing.

The disappearance of glaciers makes visible the invisible. It makes tangible the current climate change that can be hard to perceive in other ecosystems. The recent evolution of glaciers found in World Heritage sites paints a true picture of their decline in a warming planet.

A study led by Jean-Baptiste Bosson in 2019 shows that most World Heritage glaciers have lost a significant portion of their mass since 1900; some even completely disappeared, as in Africa or the Alps. The study predicts that glaciers could disappear from almost half of World Heritage sites by 2100 if business-as-usual emissions continue.

Despite the high level of protection that comes with their status, World Heritage glaciers respond exactly the same way as neighbouring glaciers. Nature conservation tools used locally to restrict human activities in these sites are powerless to limit the consequence of a global process like climate change. 

So what can we do to protect them? Listen to Jean-Baptiste Bosson as he shares his vision for the safeguard of these icy giants.

Jean-Baptiste Bosson is the lead author of the first-ever study of World Heritage glaciers, Disappearing World Heritage Glaciers as a Keystone of Nature Conservation in a Changing Climate”, undertaking in 2019 with IUCN and leading glaciologist Matthias Huss.