DRUNKEN FORESTPermafrost: the active layer
When trekking in the Italian Alps near the Stelvio Glacier earlier this year ( June 2015), we followed similar routes taken 30 and 40 years ago during winter.
Spring and Summer this beautiful and wild area is laced with a myriad of wild Rhododendri, Stella Bianci, Violetta, pink, orange, yellow and blue flowers, the lower slopes grow pine, larch and spruce with pervasive perfumes of pine, eucalyptus and other herbs.
Above is the 2005 monumental rock shedding below Quinto Alpini
Luckily, the cabin, that Giovanni built in the Stelvio National Park, 40 years ago, remains intact, yet between two huge, landslide fallsRivers of rock cascade: the mountains regurgitate boulders and loose shale.
The permanence of the ice with its temperatures below zero, have for thousands of years held the mountains and their layers of rock locked solidly, cemented tightly by ice.
Now as the ice glue melts, so the mountain rock fragments and falls or cascades…
The effects of the landslide at 3000m Summer
Moving Planet - The Facts:
The Stelvio Glacier, has apparently retreated by a third and lost half of its mass [citation EEA 2004]. The thawing accelerates increased microbial activity, which releases methane.
A combination of loosening substructure and abundance of melt water causes the “Drunken Forest”: trees lose their grip, tip and topple. As the annual temperatures rise, so the “tree line” creeps up and forestation starts to rise.
At Rifugio Branca -