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Hundreds Attend Funeral For Pizol, A Disappearing Glacier

Photo caption:

Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI AFP/Getty Images

People take part in a ceremony to mark the "death" of the Pizol glacier on Sunday in eastern Switzerland.

On Sunday, hundreds of people gathered to remember the life and commemorate the death of the Pizol glacier in the Swiss Alps.

More than 200 people hiked up to the glacier, where a priest gave a speech and mourners laid flowers on the ground, Alessandra Degiacomi, coordinator of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection and organizer of the funeral procession told CNN.

Pizol, located in eastern Switzerland, has lost 80-90% of its volume since 2006, Matthias Huss, a glacier specialist at ETH Zurich university told CNN.

"If Pizol goes, this is a warning sign. This is what is going to happen if we don't change something about our behavior," Degiacomi said, according to CNN.

A study by Swiss researchers suggests that from 2017 to 2050, about half of the glacier volume will disappear, "largely independently of how much we cut our greenhouse gas emissions." The study says that after 2050, the future is less clear.

"The future evolution of glaciers will strongly depend on how the climate will evolve," study-leader Harry Zekollari said in a statement. "In case of a more limited warming, a far more substantial part of the glaciers could be saved."

Glaciers have a big effect on the Alps, impacting the region's ecosystem and economy. The study cites glaciers as providing a source of water, especially important in warm and dry periods.

Hikers in black clothes, some wearing funeral veils, climbed Pizol the same weekend of climate change protests all over the globe.

World leaders are set to discuss climate change at the in New York on Monday.

In Iceland, a similar ceremony was held this past summer to commemorate Okjokull, a 700-year-old glacier declared dead in 2014.

A plaque that commemorates the dead glacier reads:

"In the next 200 years all our glaciers are expected to follow the same path. This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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