Gorgeous photos of a rapidly vanishing natural wonder that could be gone before 2100

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The Great Aletsch Glacier is one of Europe’s largest glaciers, winding over 14 miles through the Swiss Alps.

And it’s vanishing rapidly.

Andreas Vieli, a professor heading a team of glaciology experts at the University of Zurich, recently told Reuters that the Aletsch Glacier could lost 90% of its ice before the end of the century from warming temperatures.

To make sure this majestic, vast river of ice is not forgotten, Switzerland-based news photographer Denis Balibouse took these gorgeous photos of the Aletsch Glacier.

Enjoy.


The Aletsch glacier in southern Switzerland is the largest glacier in the Alps. It’s so large that you can see it from space, which is handy for tracking its retreat over time.

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Google Maps and Skitch by Business Insider

These two comparison photos, taken by NASA satellites, show how the outer edges of the Aletsch Glacier have shrunk. The top photo was taken in summer 2014; the bottom one was taken in summer 1987.

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REUTERS/NASA/Handout

On either side of the Aletsch Glacier are mountains that can tower as tall as 2.5 miles.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The thickest part of the glacier in Concordia, south of the Bernese Alps, contains over half a mile of ice.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouseâ

Mountain guides can help you navigate this vast and rocky terrain.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Since 1870, the glacier has retreated over 1.8 miles. Here, the melting glacier pours into a hole in the ground.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Here’s a close-up of the glacier melting away.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

When water runs through or under the glacier, it can carve out what are called glacier caves, like this one.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Below is a close-up of the brilliant blue ice inside an Aletsch Glacier cave.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

News photographer Denis Balibouse described this little hut on Concordia mountain, built in 1877 and which overlooks Aletsch Glacier, as “an awe-inspiring spot.”

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

The hut in the previous picture used to be 164 feet above the glacier, but over time the glacier has shrunk and today the hut is three times higher. Hikers have to climb this 460-step staircase to access the Concordia mountain.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

This shot from the summit of Eggishorn mountain in Switzerland accents the river-like quality of the Aletsch Glacier.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Hikers can explore parts of Aletsch Glacier. Here, the thickness of the ice looks like it’s about twice the height of the hikers.

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

Six-year mountain guide Christian Pletscher takes in the view of Aletsch Glacier. “When I look at the glaciers I think of my children,” Pletscher told Balibouse. “That scares me.”

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REUTERS/Denis Balibouse