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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

Go deeper

Updated 49 mins ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.

Updated 3 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

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