The Italian team covers the glacier with giant white sheets to slow down the melting | Environment


A large tarpaulin is held, gathering speed as it bounces down the glacier the more sparkling snow. The summer is here and the alps of ice is protected against the global warming.In the north of Italy the Presena glacier has lost more than a third of its volume since 1993.

Once the ski season is completed and the cable cars to the wharf, environmentalists race to try and stop a merger by the use of white tarps that block the sun’s rays.

“This area is constantly shrinking, so that we cover as much as possible,” explains Davide Panizza, 34, who runs the Carosello-Tonal of the company that does the work.

Covering about 30 000 square metres, in 2008, when the project began, his team is now 100 000 square metres under a bushel.

The workers slide the paper into position. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images

The coatings are “geotextile tarps that reflect the light of the sun, maintaining a temperature lower than the outside, and thus keep as much snow as possible,” he told AFP.

On the border between the Lombardy and the Trentino-alto Adige, regions, workers place the leaves in long strips, covering an area at an altitude of 2700-3000 meters above sea level.

They move methodically down the mountain under the blue sky you pull the blankets tight, and sew them together to ensure hot drafts do not slip below. Bags of sand then act as anchors against the wind.

Once in place, the leaves, which measures 70 m by 5 m, are virtually identical to those of the packaging of the white snow below.

“There’s the glacier cover system similar to ours on a few glaciers in Austria, but the area covered by the tarps is much smaller,” Panizza said.

The Austrians tarps cost up to 400 €($450) each and it takes the team six weeks to install – and another six weeks to remove it before the winter sets in again.

Franco Del Pero, 48, leads the operation and said, improvements in technology means contemporary tarps protect better than the earlier versions.

“When we remove them in September and we see that they have done their work, we feel proud,” he said.


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