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Mont Blanc glacier could collapse, experts warn

Mount Blanc.
Mount Blanc. Photo: Pino Pacifico/REDA&CO/Universal Images Group/Getty Images

Italian authorities closed roads and evacuated mountain homes in northwestern Italy on Wednesday after experts warned that 250,000 cubic meters of ice could break away from a glacier on the Mont Blanc massif in the Alps at any moment, according to The Guardian.

Why it matters: A geologist who has monitored the glacier since 2013 told the New York Times that, although climate change was not directly connected to the creation of the crevasse, its melting rate has significantly increased as a result of rising temperatures.

What they're saying: Geologist Daniele Giordan said a chilly fall could close the crack and prevent a massive ice avalanche that would threaten anyone in the popular hiking location, per the NYT.

  • Stefano Miserocchi, the mayor of Courmayeur — a town in the region — said he issued a pre-emptive order to clear the resort community.

The big picture: Experts sent the warning a day after the United Nations published a report blaming climate change for rapidly melting glaciers and ice sheets, which cover nearly 10% of Earth's land area.

  • The report said the receding glaciers and ice sheets have altered the ecosystems of high mountain regions around the world and that some cold-adapted or snow-dependent species have declined in abundance, increasing their risk of extinction.
  • “...many glaciers are projected to disappear regardless of future emissions,” the report added.

Go deeper: In photos: Hundreds mourn Swiss glacier's loss to global warming