The ‘Climate, Hydrology and Alpine Glaciers (CHANGE)’ project is funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (2018 – 2020) and is conducted at Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom by Dr. Manja Žebre (Marie Sklodowska-Curie fellow) and Prof. Neil Glasser (Principal Investigator).

Global warming is clearly evidenced by receding glaciers and is largely threatening water supplies. Temperatures in the European Alps have increased by nearly 2°C in the last hundred years, which is almost twice as much as the global average [1]. As a consequence, the Alps have lost about a half of their glacier area in the period 1850-2000 [2], and accelerated ice loss is evident after 1980 [3]. Future glacier retreat in the Alps, which constitute a major water reservoir for Europe, will drastically affect the regional hydrology [4]. At present the relative contribution of snow and ice melt to runoff in the Alpine glacierized basins is ~10%  [4], with highest runoff during summer when other sources of water are often limited in the lowlands. If the warming trend continues, it is estimated that about 80% of ice volume and 55-85% of summer glacier runoff will be lost by the end of the 21st century [5], which represents a great threat to water supply of downstream regions. Future water security is dependent on sustainable management of water resources, which is one of key policy challenges in the Alpine region [1] [6]. For developing policies that will ensure an optimal level of adaptation to climate change, it is essential to understand climate change impacts by delivering reliable, accurate and up-to-date data from a scientific community. The main objective of the CHANGE project is to assess the impact of climate change on glacier behaviour and glacier hydrology in Alpine regions as a cornerstone for future water resource policy.

The original concept upon which the CHANGE project builds is that the geological setting of glacier bed influences the subglacial hydrology and glacier motion, which is one of key aspects to be considered when quantifying the contribution of glacier melt to stream runoff in the context of overall glacier response to climate change. Therefore, the CHANGE project aims at understanding the influence of rock permeability on subglacial hydrology and glacier motion by applying state-of-the-art glaciological field techniques and glacio-hydrological modelling.



[1] The EU Strategy for the Alpine Region. [2] Zemp, M., Paul, F., Hoelzle, M. & Haeberli, W. Glacier fluctuations in the European Alps 1850–2000: An overview and spatio-temporal analysis of available data. B. Orlove, E. Wiegandt, B. Luckman darkening peaks Glacial retreat Sci. Soc. Context 152–167 (2008). [3] Huss, M., Farinotti, D., Bauder, A.&Funk, M. Modelling runoff from highly glacierized alpine drainage basins in a changing climate. Hydro. Proc. 22 (2008). [4] Huss, M. et al. Toward mountains without permanent snow and ice. Earth’s Futur. 5, 418–435 (2017). [5] Radić, V. et al. Regional and global projections of twenty-first century glacier mass changes in response to climate scenarios from global climate models. Clim. Dyn. 42 (2014). [6] Alpine Convention.