Claim: Climate Change Driving Snow Cover Loss and Increased “Greening” in the European Alps

Peer-Reviewed Publication


Satellite imagery of the European Alps spanning the past 38 years shows that climate change is driving declines in snow cover and increases in plant productivity, a process also known as “greening.” The findings suggest that, although alpine greening could increase carbon sequestration in the region, feedbacks between snow and vegetation are more likely to lead to more pronounced environmental changes in the future, including amplified warming, thawing of permafrost, and increased habitat loss. Mountain landscapes are biodiversity hotspots and provide a host of important ecosystem services. For example, meltwater from alpine glaciers and snow provides nearly half of the world’s freshwater resources. However, mountain environments are also more sensitive to climate change – warming roughly twice as fast as the global average. This is expected to impact snow cover and vegetation productivity in alpine regions, just as it has in the Arctic. To determine these effects in the European Alps, the highest and most extensive mountain range in Europe, Sabine Rumpf and colleagues used Landsat images and evaluated the spatial and temporal trends of snow cover and vegetation production from 1984-2021. According to the findings, snow cover across the region has declined significantly, although in less than 10% of the area studied. On the other hand, vegetation productivity has increased across 77% of the above tree-line area in the study region. The feedback loop between greening and snow recession suggests that continued greening will likely accelerate snowmelt, which could have important implications, including altering the region’s albedo (its ability to reflect solar energy), potentially releasing greenhouse gases through melting permafrost, and disrupting ecological structures, putting fragile alpine plant and animal communities at further risk.






From white to green: Snow cover loss and increased vegetation productivity in the European Alps



From EurekAlert!

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Bryan A
June 2, 2022 10:15 pm

So the Alps are yet another in the LOOOOONG list of places where it’s warming twice as fast as everywhere else

Reply to  Bryan A
June 2, 2022 10:23 pm

No wonder, as it is one of the major flight corridors…

Michael Orme
Reply to  E. Schaffer
June 4, 2022 1:43 am

That must be it!
Flight paths – of course!
That’s why, according to Historique Meteo, here in the Limousin some 250 miles west of the Alps, temperatures are absolutely flat – no planes here, no sirree (well, except the low-flying jets of the ‘Force de Frappe’ practicing for the Ukraine).

On the other hand, Matiu et al ( report an overall decline in snow depth below 2000metres, but no reported change above this level from 1971 to 2019. Strange, eh?

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Bryan A
June 3, 2022 4:51 am

You just beat me to it.
It appears everywhere is warming faster than the average #climatemaths

Peter W
Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
June 3, 2022 7:17 am

Strange, I was just reading about how cold and snowy it is becoming throughout Australia, New Zealand, and South America.

Reply to  Bryan A
June 3, 2022 5:06 am

LOL! Reminds me of that old radio show on PBS from decades past, “Prairie Home Companion”, about the village of Lake Woebegone “where all the kids are above average”. It was a joke line, of course.

Ron Long
Reply to  Bryan A
June 3, 2022 5:09 am

Bryan, it not only is warming twice as fast, it is warming back up to prehistoric levels. Google “Artifacts Are Emerging From Melting Alpine Glaciers” and read about Oetzi, a man from 5,300 years ago, that was just revealed by a retreating glacier. Makes you wonder what type of SUV Oetzi and his friends were driving? No other explanation possible!

Reply to  Bryan A
June 3, 2022 6:30 am

Switzerland is the home of Globalist oligarchy that is looking to take over the world. Crazy “climate” de-industrialization policies likely come from the Swiss center.
(hence collider on the border of France and Switzerland).

No science there, just pure propaganda to gain power for unelected billionaires.

June 2, 2022 10:19 pm

Weather drives climate. Climate Change is a result, not a driver.

It’s not like using four-letter words as a kid and mom would wash your mouth out with soap. But talking like this to intentionally muddle the topic would have gotten me a smack on the bottom from dad. “Stop talking nonsense, kid.”

Reply to  H.R.
June 3, 2022 5:07 am

Uhh you have it backwards. Climate results in weather.

Climate changes – but a lot slower than does the weather.

Reply to  Duane
June 3, 2022 6:42 am

So idiots here downvote a statement that is the most obvious fact in the world?

SMH – ridiculous!

Bryan A
Reply to  Duane
June 3, 2022 10:01 am

I believe that Climate is considered to be the average of 30 years worth of Weather. So It’s weather for 30 years before it becomes climate
Weather results in climate

Reply to  Duane
June 3, 2022 7:22 am

I hope you’re just kidding, Duane. Please consider using winkies when you write stuff like that.


  1. the weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period:
  2. “our cold, wet climate”

When the weather conditions change, only then do you get a different climate. You cannot get a different climate until the long-term weather patterns change.

Climate does not drive weather. Weather defines climate,


  1. the state of the atmosphere at a place and time as regards heat, dryness, sunshine, wind, rain, etc.:
Reply to  Duane
June 3, 2022 8:41 am

Climate is a 30 year running average of weather…then approximated as a flat line…

Gary Pearse
Reply to  DMacKenzie
June 3, 2022 10:20 am

Should be 60 years to get the rest of the cycle of variation. Choosing 30 years gave then the nice 1980s-1990s warming limb but climateers have since been broadsided by the predicted (by sceptics) long ‘pause’ and present decline in temperatures since 2000.

Reply to  Gary Pearse
June 3, 2022 11:00 am

I’d prefer 1,000 years, Gary. That seems to be a good marker as the Holocene stairsteps down to the next glaciation.

The only fly in that ointment is that it’s hard to generate any alarm for something that won’t happen for maybe several hundred years.

Alarmists can’t have that. Most people can’t run around with their hair on fire for that long. Actually, they can’t run around that long.

But I’d think 1,000 years would be best. IMO, of course.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Duane
June 3, 2022 8:54 am

It’s you that has it backwards. Climate is essentially average weather conditions over time. Saying climate “results in” weather is like saying your final grade in a class “causes” the grades of the individual exams taken during the course.

Reply to  AGW is Not Science
June 3, 2022 10:01 am

Hey, AGW is Not Science. I like that ‘final grade is a result of the exams taken’ example. Most people can grasp that.

Reply to  Duane
June 3, 2022 9:52 am

Climate is by definition, 30 years of weather.
As usual Duane, your view of reality is reversed.

Reply to  H.R.
June 3, 2022 9:16 pm

Yes, climate is the first derivative of weather…

Reply to  jimmww
June 4, 2022 9:32 am

Now all we have to do is convince Duane… and several millions of others.

The lying dogface pony soldiers of the Yellow Stream Media, and the “scientist” activists know it.

But it’s the fear porn of “Climate Change causes everything bad, and if it hasn’t, it will and we’re all gonna die!” ” that they are pushing. So, the fact that climate is a derivative of weather is something they have to pretend not to know in order to push the alarming “Climate Change causes…” [gasp!] narratives.

June 2, 2022 11:19 pm

Add to that one
comment image

Hans Erren
Reply to  Simonsays
June 3, 2022 1:05 am

“Excluding mountains”, so not alps.

Reply to  Hans Erren
June 3, 2022 3:29 am

So what’s your point. The snow is moving put out of the Alps to the lowlands. That’s weird.

Reply to  Simonsays
June 3, 2022 9:50 am

Find data that covers the alps

Robert B
June 3, 2022 2:20 am

According to the findings, snow cover across the region has declined significantly, although in less than 10% of the area studied.”

That is where you went wrong. You picked the wrong cherries.

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Robert B
June 3, 2022 4:53 am

And what about the other 90%? They don’t say if that is stable or increasing in snow cover.
The usual sneaky rubbish from thermageddonist scientists.

Robert B
Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
June 3, 2022 9:09 pm

According to Jon’s plot, increasing, but from ’67 to 9 years ago. The 1% increase over that period would not be significant. A ten year later start would more than double the trend, or a ten year later end and it’s a negative trend.

Dave Fair
June 2, 2022 10:44 pm

Mark Twain: “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.”

June 2, 2022 10:47 pm

Our glaciers on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand have also retreated .The Fox and the Franz-Joseph are unique as they were very close to sea level back in the 60s .
We have had scientists jumping up and down for the last 30 years predicting the end of snow .
When the present climate cycle turns the snow will be back with a vengeance.
Am I getting frustrated with hearing nothing but Climate Change .Climate Change, Climate Change.
The climate has always changed and it always will .
I visited the Glacier National Park in Alaska a few years ago .We sailed miles up the sound and saw the major glacier caving into the sound at the height of summer .
When the first European sailors sailed up the coast the Glacier was caving into the Pacific Ocean in the 1700s.
The glacier retreated from that time around 50 miles till 1906 .Since then it has moved only a mile or two back very slowly .

Peter Muller
Reply to  Graham
June 3, 2022 5:36 am

OK, but Glacier National Park is in Montana, not Alaska

Peter W
Reply to  Peter Muller
June 3, 2022 7:06 am

There is also Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska. My wife and I visited there in 2006, where we learned about the melting of the glacier in the 1800’s.

June 2, 2022 10:55 pm

“According to the findings, snow cover across the region has declined significantly, although in less than 10% of the area studied. On the other hand, vegetation productivity has increased across 77% of the above tree-line area in the study region.”

These green devils are so predictable, “snow cover across the region has declined significantly, although in less than 10% of the area studied.” I don’t really see a problem here.

”vegetation productivity has increased across 77% of the above tree line area in the study region.” So it sounds like CO2 fertilization to me, again no problem.

Reply to  Bob
June 3, 2022 1:44 am

 “Snow cover across the region has declined significantly, although in less than 10% of the area studied.”

Sounds much scarier than, ” Snow cover is unchanged in over 90% of the area studied.”

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  Graemethecat
June 3, 2022 4:56 am

And a lot more scarier than “90% of the Alps snow cover is unchanged or increasing”

Reply to  Bob
June 3, 2022 4:06 am

Maybe a closer look in the 10% areas might reveal localized and/or transient heat sources.

Ben Vorlich
June 2, 2022 11:29 pm

I think that Swiss and other Alpine communities stopped praying for the glaciers to stop advancing about a decade ago. They changed to prayers to stop the retreat.
A quick result shouldn’t be expected, as the original “stop the advance” prayers began several centuries ago at the height of the LIA.
Knowing when to stop is the key here, otherwise it’s going to be a constant cycle of prayer

June 2, 2022 11:50 pm

Confirms the good effect CO2 has on plant growth.

Ed Zuiderwijk
June 3, 2022 12:35 am

In Roman times the tree line was 400 meter higher than in the 1950s. It appears to be moving up again. So, what is the news?

Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
June 3, 2022 2:46 am

The very rapid change since 1990

Reply to  griff
June 3, 2022 2:55 am

Wrong….you need to use EXTREME or we don’t believe you.

Reply to  griff
June 3, 2022 3:24 am

A very rapid change – Sounds good to me. Am I wrong again? Is all change bad? Or just when ice disappears?

Reply to  griff
June 3, 2022 5:08 am

Rapid change is the short-term noise overlying long term change. It’s like trying to manage your retirement stock portfolio by every hourly change in stock prices.

Oh, the poor little ice. I hope it’s feelings are not hurt. Such a tragedy! (/sarc)

Polar scientists and glaciologists commonly personify ice as if it were a sentient being. So what if satellite imagery for 30+ years demonstrates retreat? We have all known that for quite some time without this trivial paper (probably got some kids their PhDs and more funding for the department). We also know that the retreat is uncovering artifacts from previous ice-free eras. Greening is also nothing new.

Reply to  griff
June 3, 2022 9:55 am

Do you have any evidence that the change is more rapid, or is that just more of what you are paid to believe?

Reply to  griff
June 4, 2022 3:55 am

Griff moves the goalposts again.

June 3, 2022 1:16 am

“Melting ice reveals first world war relics in Italian Alps”

Satellite imagery of the European Alps doesn’t go back that far….

Andrew Wilkins
Reply to  fretslider
June 3, 2022 5:00 am

Always amusing to see the alarmist zealots at the Graun being forced to admit it was warmer in the recent past.

Reply to  fretslider
June 4, 2022 4:00 am

It’s hilarious how the Guardian carefully avoids the obvious conclusion that the Italian Alps were as warm as today a century ago, or possibly even warmer.

June 3, 2022 1:30 am

There were a couple times in those mountains when I would have Loved to had a bit of global warming come to help us out. Getting caught above the tree line on the Zugspitze during the worst winter storm to hit Bavaria in 10 years was one of those times. It was a very long night.

Climate believer
June 3, 2022 2:14 am

Mont Blanc (the highest peak in the Alps) in 2005 the altitude was measured at 4,808.75 meters, 30 cm more than the previous measurement.

In 2007, the altitude of Mont Blanc was measured at 4,810.90 meters, 2.15 meters more than the previous measurement.

The volume of snow has almost doubled since 2003, from 14,600 m3 to 24,100 m3.

Must be part of the +90% that hasn’t declined significantly.

Reply to  Climate believer
June 3, 2022 8:15 am

Griff just said that it is rapidly shrinking, you most be wrong.

Richard Page
Reply to  bob boder
June 3, 2022 8:44 am

Griff doesn’t know whether he’s coming or going.

Reply to  Climate believer
June 3, 2022 9:57 am

I know, I know, I know.
The mountain is taller because of thermal expansion. /sarc

June 3, 2022 2:54 am

“….putting fragile alpine plant and animal communities at further risk.“

“Fragile” and “communities” are triggering words for me 😉

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Derg
June 3, 2022 7:54 am

Unfortunately the word “fragile” IS a “triggering” word for the climate Kool-Aid drinkers. There’s likely nothing “fragile” about life in Alpine regions, any more than the Polar Bears whose existence isn’t “fragile” either.

The biggest lie continues – that being that a warmer climate is worse for life anywhere. It is cold that kills, not warmth.

Now let’s think about how many species common to say, New England will be in serious trouble the next time it is covered in a thick sheet of glacial ice…

Richard Page
Reply to  AGW is Not Science
June 3, 2022 8:54 am

“Fragile” has become a key green word as have various words implying that plant and animal species are all on the verge of extinction – that only the careful and delicate management of a stable ecosystem will prevent their complete extermination. This is green hyperbole designed to support their core delusion that all change is bad, that the ideal world is a stable, unchanging utopia which will then support all animal and plant life. The fact is that exactly the opposite is true – change happens all the time; day to night; one season to the next; short, medium and long term weather patterns – we live in a constantly changing world, the plants and animals cope and, indeed, thrive in such completely natural conditions.

Reply to  Richard Page
June 3, 2022 10:00 am

The vase majority of animals have ranges that extend for hundreds, if not thousands of miles. Warming of a few tenths of a degree might cause these ranges to shift a mile or two poleward. Not enough to inconvenience the animals, much less drive them to extinction.

June 3, 2022 4:56 am

The “Little Ice Age” (on average 2° colder and wetter than today) began over 700 years ago with the end of the multi-centennial “Medieval Warm Period” (average 2° warmer/dryer). Duration and temperature estimates of these two periods vary.

As the LIA tightened its grip the Viking settlements of the North Atlantic became inhospitable. Sea levels lowered, ice flows hindered navigation, crops withered, farm animals died and the Norse went home. The favourable climate from several decadal warming trends during the LIA and superior sailing skills may have facilitated the European discovery of and settlement in the Americas.

A 70-year period of low sunspot activity, named the “Maunder Minimum”, beginning in 1645 coincides with the LIA’s coldest decades. Estimates of the lowest LIA sea levels are as much as 2 ft. below todays. Thermal expansion of the ocean’s water at the MWP’s peak place estimates of sea levels as much as 1 ft. higher than today’s. Most (perhaps all) of the 1.5°C mean temperature increase of the past 150 years is attributed to the recovery (which continues to this day) from the LIA.

Sublimation from nightly drier air is reducing the planet’s mountain glaciers to their previous “normal” positions. Glacial retreat moves quickly in comparison to glacial advance. Retreating ice is now revealing remnants of previous climate periods. End moraines of glacier advances prior to the MWP indicate the glaciers of the LIA are the longest of the Holocene. The MWP/LIA is the last of four cycles of minor glacial advance and retreat in the past 6,000 years, perhaps linked to solar activity (sunspots) cycles. The colder “Dark Ages” and the “Roman Warm Period” were the previous cycle.

We may now be at or past the start of the warm half of the next millenial cycle, the “Current Warm Period” which, if like the last, may have legs for another century or two.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  M.W.Plia
June 3, 2022 7:57 am

And we should be happy about that, not panicked about it. But then there is the human susceptibility to propaganda…

Burl Henry
Reply to  M.W.Plia
June 3, 2022 10:53 am


You mentioned that the Maunder Minimum coincided with the coldest decades of the LIA.

This was just a coincidence., it did not cause any detectable non-volcanic cooling.

See “The Definitive Cause of Little Ice Age Temperatures”

Andrew Wilkins
June 3, 2022 4:58 am

77% more vegetation.
It always amuses me when so called “greens” get upset about an increasing amount of …..
…. green.

Thomas Gasloli
Reply to  Andrew Wilkins
June 3, 2022 6:39 am

Well, they generally live where it is all concrete & asphalt; green plants seem unnatural to them.

June 3, 2022 5:04 am

So, let me get this straight: The Greens don’t like Green?

OK, got it.

June 3, 2022 6:53 am

Remember now, don’t look forward-only back and don’t look at indicators of change. There is no land war in Europe, energy is cheap, and life is good.

Gordon A. Dressler
June 3, 2022 6:54 am

It is increasing atmospheric CO2 levels—a fact NOT associated with global warming-induced climate change—that is causing the increased “greening” in the European Alps.

That is all.

lee riffee
June 3, 2022 7:19 am

These kinds of articles drive me nuts when they talk about “habitat loss”….apparently they fail to realize that climatic changes are a major driver of evolution. If the static climate that the greens expect this planet to have actually existed, there would be no where near the great diversity of life we see today. Every time in history there has been “habitat loss” (due to climatic changes and not human activity like deforestation) that has spurred animal and plant species to adapt and change. And those that could not went extinct. Well over 90% of all species to ever inhabit this planet have gone extinct…long before any hominids ever existed!
Yes, their cups are always half empty. It isn’t “habitat loss” but rather change that drives evolution.
Reminds me of the song Tom Sawyer by Rush:
“Changes aren’t permanent but change is.”

Bruce Cobb
June 3, 2022 7:28 am

Uh-oh, “greening”? It’s worse than we thought. We’re doomed!

June 3, 2022 7:35 am

Archaeologists should get up there to look for remains of human activity.

Joe Btfsplk is a character in Lil Abner comic that walks around with a cloud over his head and brings misfortune to everyone around him. They are beginning to look like Joe.

June 3, 2022 9:50 am

A few years ago, a Roman era silver mine was discovered after it was uncovered by retreating glaciers.
Just because glaciers are retreating is not evidence that CO2 caused it.

BTW, increased CO2 is well known to cause greening. Most well known by helping plants use water more efficiently, but also because more CO2 counter acts the fact that the partial pressure of any gas decreases as altitude increases.

To think of this another way, it gets hard for human’s to breath when you get above around 20,000 feet in elevation. The air up there has 20% oxygen, just like the air at sea level, however because the air pressure is lower, there’s less oxygen in each breath. If the oxygen level in the atmosphere was to increase from 20% to 40%, then humans could survive at higher altitudes than they do now.
Plants need CO2 to survive, just as humans need O2. CO2 levels have doubled in the last 70 years. So obviously, plants will be able to survive at altitudes higher than they were able to survive at 70 years ago.

Reply to  MarkW
June 3, 2022 4:59 pm

Good analogy, but CO2 hasn’t doubled in the last 70 years. 70 years ago the CO2 concentration was about 300 ppm. It’s now 420 ppm. That’s an increase of 40%.

June 3, 2022 7:01 pm

Meanwhile, here in central BC, Canada, global warming climate change caused the spring snow pack to be more than twice normal.

Reply to  Art
June 4, 2022 8:08 am

With serious flooding expected as the rivers peak from snowmelt around June 6….add in potential rainfall….but officials already have their “climate change” speeches written cuz they want to obfuscate that they didn’t allow enough runoff retention ponds for the multiple housing and box store parking lot developments they approved in the last decade….

June 3, 2022 10:41 pm

Faked data and models.

“Fig. S2. Temporal changes of NDVI and snow cover depending on ambient temperatures in the European Alps from 1984-2021 with varying smoothing parameters k. Magnitude of temporal changes is measured as Sen’s slope β and is negative for decreases and positive for increases, and zero is depicted as black dashed line. Lines and shaded areas represent model fits and .95 confidence intervals, respectively, derived from generalized additive models with k set to 9 (left) and 12 (right).”

Last edited 2 months ago by ATheoK
ed nalton
Reply to  ATheoK
June 4, 2022 5:49 am

The 700yrs quoted above by M.W.Plia rang a bell.Afew months ago a group of people went to Iceland to mourn the extinction or a 700 year old glacier,muttering the usual nonsense.
No one thought to ask them what was there 701 years ago!

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