All posts by Alessia Cicconi

Just in time… after 7000 years!

The bottom ice of the Ortles Glacier is 7000 years old and now … is moving.

“It is possible that some meltwater infiltrated in depth from the rock outcrops and it is now lubricating the glacier base during the current exceptionally warm summers, thus facilitating basal ice sliding.” explains the project leader Paolo Gabrielli. “It means that information about the past climate contained in this glacier are going to be lost forever. Thus, when in 2011 four ice cores were retrieved from the Ortles glacier, we arrived just in time to extract the deep ice before it moved away.”

Findings of the research carried out by an international team show that the deepest ice of Ortles Glacier formed around 7000 years ago at the end of a warm period, the so-called Northern Hemisphere Climatic Optimum. Afterward, a cold period started, the so-called Neoglatiacion. It is not just a case that the world-famous mummy of the Tyrolean Iceman, that dates back to that period, was discovered nearby in 1991.

The ice cores retrieved from the Ortles Glacier are important not only to reconstruct the past climate of the area but also for studying modern climate change relationships from a small scale to a global one. This is valid for all the low latitude glaciers that, unfortunately, are disappearing and losing invaluable information they have preserved for thousands of years.

This concern led to an International program with a striking name, the “Ice Memory Project“.

“Ice cores from low latitude glaciers will be stored in the coldest place on the Earth, Antarctica” explains Prof. Carlo Barbante ” In this way they will be available for further research of the next generation of scientists which will have more powerful technology”
This is the real nature of research: seeking into the past to look forward!

For more information read the entire article

The Best School Year Start Ever: the Glaciology Camp

What could be a better start for the school year than to participate in a Glaciology Camp?!

For 23 students and three teachers, this opportunity became a reality as they participated in the sixth edition of the Glaciology Camp held last September on the Ortles Mountain.

Students doing research in the field. Author: Valter Carbone

The idea to involve students in research activities started in 2011 when the Ortles Project was born. Starting from the first expedition in 2011, every year, the students of the schools of the Province of Bolzano (in both Italian and German languages) have the great opportunity to be selected and participate for a week in an immersive experience in the field, next to researchers such as Paolo Gabrielli,  principal investigator of the Ortles Project.

Seminars at Franzenshöhe Hotel. Paolo Gabrielli , Principal Investigator of the Ortles Project explains features of the Ortles glacier. Author: Valter Carbone

Students took part in research activities in the Val di Mazia streams, sampling macroinvertebrates for monitoring the quality of the water.

Monitoring the quality of the water by sampling macroinvertebrates. Author: Valter Carbone

The apex of the campus has been the roped party excursion on the glacier of Cima Solda thanks to the alpine guides of Solda.

Excursion on the glacier. Author: Valter Carbone

Activities and experiences of their time during the camp were presented by the students during the Science Days in Bolzano in October. Stay tuned to know more…

Ortles Day: Research meets School through the Atlantic Ocean

Just some decades ago it would have been incredible to still imagine it! Three research centers in different locations connected to speak about science in front of an audience of students, teachers and researchers from different countries. This is what happened during the first ” Ortles Day”.

The multi-broadcast event among the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University, the European Academy or Research of Bolzano (Italy) and the Botanical Institute of the University of Innsbruck (Austria) has been a success in science and outreach. Topics of the meeting: ice cores, pollens and their use in the paleoclimatology. But the undisputed protagonist of the day has been the Ortles Project, that in 2016 turns 8 years old.

The value of this kind of event is building bridges between research and school that in countries,such as Italy, are really disconnected from each other. Students, both Italians and Americans, present at the meeting gave a vital impulse to the organization. They represent the future of science and the whole planet.


Here the program of the event.

From USA to Europe: the first “Ortles Day”

Today, April 14th, a meeting about the Ortles Project will be held among 3 locations connected via a multi-broadcast event: the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at The Ohio State University, the EURAC of Bolzano in Italy, and the Institute of Botany of the University of Innsbruck in Austria. Topics of the meeting include ice cores, pollen, education events, paleoclimatology and last findings of the Ortles Project.
In fact, in Europe, many people wonder: what happened to the ice cores extracted from the Ortles glacier in 2011?
Below the flyer (in English).
Stay tuned, and we will update you.



A first indication that ancient ice was still present in the Tyrolean Alps arose from the 1991 discovery of the famous ~5200 years old Tyrolean Ice Man who emerged from the low elevation ablating ice field of the Hauslabjoch (3210 m) located ~30 km from Mt. Ortles, the highest mountain in South Tyrol, in the Italian Eastern Alps. This discovery provided an exceptional time window into our past history, focusing on how humans were interacting with the Alpine environment in the Neolithic and how rapid climate change may have affected their life, also contributing to bury the Tyrolean Ice Man first in snow and then in ice.

The 5.2 kyr old Tyrolean Ice Man (right) that emerged in 1991 from the ablating ice at the Hauslabjoch, ~30 km north of Mt. Ortles. Landesgendarmeriekommando fur Tirol/Austria

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