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High-altitude wake for melted Swiss glacier

September 23, 2019

Those in attendance wore dark outfits and some laid flowers. The "funeral march" took place as world leaders and youth activists prepared for a major United Nations summit on climate change.

Pizol Glacier, Switzerland
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/Keystone/G. Ehrenzeller

Approximately 250 people attended the "funeral" of the Pizol glacier in the Swiss Alps on Sunday.

The majority of marchers were suitably dressed, in black attire, to recognize the disappearance of the glacier as climate change continues to bite.

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Some of the attendees laid flowers at the scene.

Pizol Glacier, Switzerland
One mourner is seen here laying flowers at the glacier, while others hold a vigilImage: AFP/F. Coffrini

"We're here to bid farewell to Pizol," Swiss glaciologist Matthias Huss said at the wake, in northeastern Switzerland.

Eric Petrini, the chaplain of the Mels municipality where Pizol is located, pleaded for "God's help to tackle the enormous challenge of climate change."

Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," said Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, prior to the ceremony taking place.

It happened at the same time that world leaders and youth activist prepared to gather in New York for a United Nations summit on climate change.

Alarming rate of disappearance

The disappearance of glaciers in the Alps has become an increasingly common occurrence over the past 150 years.

"Since 1850, we estimate that more than 500 Swiss glaciers have completely disappeared, including 50 that were named," Huss, who works at the ETH technical university in Zurich, said.

Read more: 5-year period ending 2019 on pace to be hottest

Pizol may not be the first glacier to melt into extinction, but "you could say it is the first to disappear that has been very thoroughly studied."

In a study earlier this year, researchers at the ETH determined that more than 90 percent of Alpine glaciers will vanish by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

People take part in a ceremony to mark the 'death' of the Pizol glacier above Mels, in Switzerland. In this image, rocks have been used to mark out RIP
People take part in a ceremony to mark the 'death' of the Pizol glacier above Mels, in Switzerland.Image: AFP/F. Coffrini

jsi/se (AFP, Reuters)

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