by P. Homewood, March 28, 2021 in IowaClimSciEducation
The Upper & Lower Grindelwald Glaciers in 1774 by Caspar Wolf
HH Lamb’s Climate, History and The Modern World tells us much about the history of Alpine glaciers. For instance, how they advanced rapidly between 800 and 400 BC. They then retreated before advancing again between AD 600 and AD 850, when they may have even reached Little Ice Age maximum extents.
We are probably all familiar with the terrifying glacier advances, which began in the 17thC, following centuries of a much warmer climate. These were catastrophic for anybody living nearby, as farming land was wiped out, and even the land that escaped being overrun was far too cold to farm. As a result, famine was rife in Switzerland and elsewhere, even in cities which relied on the countryside for food.
People living in those days would have been dumfounded to hear that there are some now who are worried that glaciers are getting smaller.
A paper by Zumbuhl et al, published in 2006, offers a detailed history of the Lower Grindelwald glacier, as well as the Mer de Glace in the Mont Blanc region: