Italy Covers Melting Glacier with Reflective Sheets
Italy Covers Melting Glacier with Reflective Sheets

PASSO DEL TONALE, ITALY — A group of Italian conservationists are "tucking in" glaciers with special blankets to protect them from melting in the summer.

Here are the details: The BBC reports that conservation workers have been covering the Presena Glacier in northern Italy with huge cloth sheets every year since 2008.

They put the sheets on at the end of the ski season and take them off again in September, ready for the cooler temperatures and winter snowfalls.

These sheets are made from a special reflective material called a "geotextile," which reflects the sun's rays to help prevent the snow underneath from melting.

The conservationists say about 70 percent of the snow can be saved over the summer by using the protective sheets.

Each sheet is five meters wide and 70 meters long, and they are sewn together and weighted in place so they don't blow away.

In total they cover around 120,000 square meters of the glacier.

Covering this much of the glacier is no easy task and can take between a month and six weeks for the team to complete.

The volume of the Presena Glacier has shrunk by more than a third since 1993.

The glacier has also been plagued by algae that turns its white snow pink.

The algae also absorbs sunlight and increases the risk of ice melting.

Glaciologists say glaciers and their retreat are perhaps the most striking manifestation of ongoing global warming.

Studying glaciers is therefore important to understand the direction in which the planet's climate is heading.