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03 October 2011

"Caucasus 2011" - Second expedition completed

Started last 28 July, the photographic-scientific expedition "Caucasus 2011", the second of the project "On the Trail of the Glaciers", which covered the Caucasus mountain range from the Georgian side, ended on 1 September.

Four main glaciers examined, twenty comparison photographs taken from the same perspective as those obtained by the first pioneers more than one hundred and twenty years ago, numerous ablometric poles positioned, two data loggers installed, three helicopter reconnaissance flights, two years of preliminary studies and logistical organisation, and more than a month of fieldwork. All of this was filmed by a specialised television crew for the making of the documentary, which will soon be distributed internationally.

The expedition team, co-ordinated by Fabiano Ventura, travelled through an almost untouched and unexplored region in the north-west of Georgia, characterised by the highest Caucasian peaks, between 3000 and 5000 metres. The main aim of the expedition was to retake historical photographs from the same viewpoint, to assess the surface variations of the local glaciers by means of geomorphological surveys, and to measure the melt rate of the local glaciers by means of ablometric poles, in order to relate the thickness of the floating debris on the ice, the melt rate of the ice and the reflective power (albedo) of the different surfaces.

In the field, together with Fabiano Ventura, glaciologists Prof. Kenneth Hewitt and Dr. Riccardo Scotti, and the television crew composed of director Marco Preti and cameraman Luca Venchiarutti, worked on a documentary produced and distributed by SD Cinematografica, which will soon be aired on major national and international television channels.

Just a few days after the end of the expedition, the first results of the work carried out can already be highlighted, based on the photographic comparisons and scientific observations made: the glaciers of the Caucasus chain are showing strong retreats of their fronts, as well as significant losses in their thickness, such as the Chalaat glacier, which has lost 200 m in thickness and whose front has receded by more than 3 km.

To illustrate the activities carried out as part of this year's expedition, a press conference is scheduled to take place in October at the headquarters of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Rome.

Click here to download the press release in Italian

Click here to download the press release in English

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