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Swiss Glacier Was Ice Free 2000 Years Ago

November 10, 2022

By Paul Homewood



Maybe the researchers should have read this study from 2005, which gives the full perspective on “melting glaciers”:



He may not look like a revolutionary, but Ulrich Joerin, a wiry Swiss scientist in his late twenties, is part of a small group of climatologists who are in the process of radically changing the image of the Swiss mountain world. He and a colleague are standing in front of the Tschierva Glacier in Engadin, Switzerland at 2,200 meters (7,217 feet). "A few thousand years ago, there were no glaciers here at all," he says. "Back then we would have been standing in the middle of a forest." He digs into the ground with his mountain boot until something dark appears: an old tree trunk, covered in ice, polished by water and almost black with humidity. "And here is the proof," says Joerin.


The tree trunk in the ice is part of a huge climatic puzzle that Joerin is analyzing for his doctoral thesis for the Institute for Geological Science at the University of Bern. And he is coming to an astonishing conclusion. The fact that the Alpine glaciers are melting right now appears to be part of regular cycle in which snow and ice have been coming and going for thousands of years.

The glaciers, according to the new hypothesis, have shrunk down to almost nothing at least ten times since the last ice age 10,000 years ago. "At the time of the Roman Empire, for example, the glacier tongue was about 300 meters higher than today," says Joerin. Indeed, Hannibal probably never saw a single big chunk of ice when he was crossing the Alps with his army.

The most dramatic change in the landscape occurred some 7,000 years ago. At the time, the entire mountain range was practically glacier-free — and probably not due to a lack of snow, but because the sun melted the ice. The timber line was higher then as well.

The scientists’ conclusion puts the vanishing glaciers of the past 150 years into an entirely new context: "Over of the past 10,000 years, fifty percent of the time, the glaciers were smaller than today," Joerin states in an essay written together with his doctoral advisor Christian Schluechter. They call it the "Green Alps" theory.

"The history of the glacial cover apparently is more dynamic than had been assumed until now," says Schleuchter. According to this model, the glaciers were smallest about 7,000 years ago, largest during the "mini ice age" of 1650 to 1850. Since this last cold spell, the tongues of ice have been receding quickly — for a paleo-climatologist 150 years are just a wink in time.

Although their work was reported as “controversial”, glaciologists have long known that glaciers were much smaller than now in the not too distant past. HH Lamb wrote about the phenomenon in 1983, presenting clear proof that the Alps have been much warmer than now for the last 3000 years at least, according to incontrovertible tree line studies. The Little Ice Age of course stands out as the coldest period of the lot.


Climate, History and The Modern World: HH Lamb

The Sunfleuron Glacier mentioned in the Times article may have been free of ice 2000 years ago, but it most certainly has also been ice-free more recently.

  1. ThinkingScientist permalink
    November 10, 2022 5:52 pm

    I think we can be pretty confident the glacier line was much higher in the Alps during Roman times than today. And in the Bronze age. lots of archeological and tree stump data to support that. Same in parts of Norway and on Iceland I believe.

    Nothing “unprecedented” about modern warming and glacial retreat.

    Apart from the hysteria of course.

    • Gamecock permalink
      November 10, 2022 10:06 pm

      Wut? There are no alpine tree stumps. Alpine means ABOVE THE TREELINE.

      Der Spiegel gets it wrong, too.

      ‘A New Alpine Melt Theory’

      “Back then we would have been standing in the middle of a forest.”

      Then that would be subalpine.

      • aaron permalink
        November 11, 2022 6:12 pm

        Yes, the alpine moved.

      • M E permalink
        November 11, 2022 7:13 pm

        I think ‘Alpine’ means ‘of the Alps’ in Europe, not necessarily of high altitude mountainscapes which may be decribed as ‘alpine'( lower case) around the world

  2. Tim Leeney permalink
    November 10, 2022 5:57 pm

    It is of course the Morteratsch glacier, which I know well. Picture caption in your posting confirms.

  3. John Hultquist permalink
    November 10, 2022 6:09 pm

    I think it is interesting that for trees (the tree line) to move up-hill animals and wind have to be the carriers of seeds. Because trees grow slowly at high elevations the time for mature trees to appear must be hundreds of years.

    “at 2,200 meters (7,217 feet)” – – –
    Because of a rare blood condition, I can work at 7,000 feet but hiking up-slope is no longer in my repertoire. I applaud the folks that can and do.

    • Liardet Guy permalink
      November 10, 2022 6:28 pm

      Felt very ill at 11,000ft the other day. That’s old age. Good point about the slower growth at altitude thus tree line duration

      • November 11, 2022 11:43 am

        I have always been unhappy above 10,000 feet whether camping or skiing in Colorado.

        My nephew was with a group hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro and had to turn back near the summit.

  4. terence carlin permalink
    November 10, 2022 6:31 pm

    Always worth noting earlier predictions being made by the so called climate experts / alarmists …….this prediction was made in 2017

    Alpine glaciers ‘gone’ by 2020.
    From Glacier National Park (Montana) sign: The small alpine glaciers present today started forming about 7,000 years ago and reached their maximum is size and number around 1850, at the end of the Little Ice Age. They are now rapidly shrinking due to human-caused climate change. Computer models indicate the glaciers will all be gone by year 2020.
    Related: Glacier National Park to remove all ‘glaciers will be gone by 2020’ signs, from the KPAX.
    Related: The telling tale of Glacier National Park’s ‘gone by 2020’ signs, from the New York Post.

    • Graeme No.3 permalink
      November 10, 2022 9:18 pm

      That prediction has been recycled many times.
      Date of prediction (date of ice gone)
      2014 (2034), 2009 & 2010 (2020), 1952 (2002), 1924 (1949), 1923 (1948)
      I think the original claim was made back in the 1880’s but haven’t got that record.

  5. November 10, 2022 7:12 pm

    It is very well known that there was a lot less ice on Earth during the Holocene Climatic Optimum, roughly between 9K and 6K years ago. This is scientific fact and there are loads of papers published that address this.

    This latest research is nothing new.

  6. November 10, 2022 7:34 pm

    The first report is from 2022 and the second from 2005. I remember Steve carrying it at Climate Audit under the heading ‘The Green alps’.

    Glaciers have waxed and waned over the years and as the report says Hanibal was supposed to have been able to cross the ice mostly ice free. Recently Roman silver mines have been discovered in melting ice at height, but of course they weren’t under ice when constructed 2000 years ago.

  7. November 10, 2022 7:59 pm

    This is old news. Covered by several papers already. Ignorant peer reviewers, etc. Hannibal did not have such a tough time getting the Heffalumps over the Alps….. Joerin, Hormes, etc. Hardly a surprise.

  8. Ben Vorlich permalink
    November 10, 2022 8:52 pm

    Several comments that this is old news and been reported before.

    Surely what is remarkable is not that it has been studied before but that it is published in today’s climate of wall to wall Climate Change/Catastrophe/Emergency and dire warnings of death and destruction as a result.

    Every News bulletin and Weather forecast now comes with several dire warning and atributions to Climate Change

    • November 11, 2022 6:19 pm

      According to Wikipedia, and Carbon Brief, and John Grant of the weird beard, MWP only happened regionally. This seems at odds with the reality of reported observational science. So Wikipedia is written by activists and needs correction.

      • M E permalink
        November 11, 2022 7:17 pm

        Wikipedia can NOT be relied upon for historical facts either , I find. It is a product of many keyboards around the world , many not professional.

  9. November 10, 2022 10:02 pm

    More from the Alps…

    Story of Ötzi the Iceman gets multi-glaciation rewrite from researchers

    ‘study of the landscape showed that the remains had not been covered by a glacier, which suggests Ötzi had melted out of the ice many times’

    Story of Ötzi the Iceman gets multi-glaciation rewrite from researchers

  10. Jan Goffa permalink
    November 11, 2022 8:19 am

    Ask Hannibal and his army of elephants

    • November 11, 2022 11:45 am

      That was my thought…..a little tough slogging through glaciers.

      • dave permalink
        November 11, 2022 1:46 pm

        “…slogging through glaciers…”

        Hannibal and his army certainly did not have to do that, as they used the passes. The crossing was not difficult because of the cold but because they were fiercely opposed by the local tribes on the ascent, because they had many animals, both for Cavalry and for carrying essential gear, (and they had the elephants that everybody knows about!), and because the track was found blocked in a difficult place in the descent by an unreported landslide.

        Also, snow fell a little early for the season; Hannibal had left it late to cross – judging by the reference to the position of the Pleiades, it was in mid-October. I am not sure it would be feasible now to cross by foot at that season. In the Histories, the only reference to difficulty with snow was when the army was descending – when they had technically “crossed the Alps” – and the plains of Lombardy were actually in sight. Clearly, the snow was unexpected for the soldiers almost despaired, having to slog through it at a time when they had thought they were “home free.”

        Polybius writes:

        On the ninth day of his march Hannibal reached the top of the pass and there pitched camp for two days.

        The climate must have been quite benign!

  11. Gerry, England permalink
    November 11, 2022 10:52 am

    The only reason the 2005 paper was ‘controversial’ is that it was a well researched piece of work that looked at and assessed the evidence as opposed to another piece of global warming rubbish to keep the grant money flowing in.

  12. Phoenix44 permalink
    November 11, 2022 5:57 pm

    There’s abundant evidence that the temperature varies considerably over relatively short time frames, not just from climate science, but from history, archeology, anthropology, art. Yet today’s climate scientists willfully refuse to accept it. And those who ought to do due diligence on their extravagant claims have done nothing of the sort. It’s so easy to demonstrate that the temperature reconstructions are flawed and that we have been warmer in the past but literally nobody in power is interested.

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