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Glacier Breeder

Professor Johannes Oerlemans and Dr Felix Keller form the world’s only glaciologist tango duo. What’s more, they’re on the verge of countering global warming with their “MortAlive” project which can slow down glacial melting.

Let It Snow

With melt water, a jet pump, sufficient water pressure and sophisticated technology that does not require electrical energy, the Dutch and Swiss natives produce snow at a test site at a valley station on the Diavolezza, which can be used to cover glaciers. The effect is that ice, now covered by snow and therefore protected from the sun’s rays, does not melt.

Fiddler On The Ice

Felix says that this can delay the melting of more than just the Morteratsch glacier, where a glacier educational trail charts its slow demise. For this reason, he is often out and about on the perpetual ice with his violin: “I’m trying to use this as a signal to motivate people, if possible with humour, to drive climate protection forward at full speed in a fun way.”

Just In Time

And urgency is needed. Every year, around 15 million tonnes of ice melt on the Morteratsch alone, which is vital drinking water in some regions of the globe; in the Himalayas, for example, 800 million people rely on water stored in the glaciers.

The two glaciologists’ large-scale, patented snow-making system prevents rapid melting. “According to our model calculations,” explains Felix, “We could delay glacial melting by 30 to 50 years. This would give the people of Ladakh in the Himalayas a bit of breathing space. By then, mankind must have long since reacted to the climate issue, otherwise things will get really serious.”