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Alps collapsing

nolympics submits

And they would not have been far wrong - for scientists now believe global warming is melting the Alps, threatening widespread devastation over the next two decades.

The great mountain range's icy crust of permafrost, which holds its stone pillars and rockfaces together, and into which its cable car stations and pylons are rooted, is disappearing. Already several recent Alpine disasters, including the avalanches which killed more than 50 people at the Austrian resort of Galtur four years ago, are being blamed on the melting of permafrost.

And in future, things are likely to get much worse - as scientists will point out tomorrow at the opening, in Zurich, of the International Permafrost Association conference. Held every four years, the meeting provides climatologists, civil engineers, and geologists with a chance to exchange research data about the icy layers that coat the ground in the world's coldest regions. Rarely has a scientific meeting been so timely.


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