On the border between Trentino and Lombardy, a group of people confront the scale of an entire mountain in a desperate attempt to save it from the ravages of climate change.
While in other places climate change may still be an abstract concept, here, between 2700 and 3000 metres above sea level, its effects are all too evident. The Presena glacier has lost more than a third of its volume since 19
This border has already become a frontline. So far, the average yearly temperature in the Alps has already risen by more than 1.5°C, twice the global average.
The effort to slow down its melting began in 2008, when they began covering part of the glacier with large tarpaulins to protect the snow from the rising temperatures in the summer months, an experimental act.
Once rolled out, these large white blankets are barely distinguishable from the snow below.
The experiment proved effective, decreasing snowmelt by up to 60%. It was repeated the following year, and the year after that. Each year the effort paid off, and the area to be protected has continued to grow.
In 2020, more than 100,000 square metres of glacier were covered by this special geotextile to h
This has helped preserve the glacier, but it is also a paradoxical act.
The material that makes up these enormous sheets is a high tenacity polypropylene, stabilised to resist ultraviolet radiation.
The same hydrocarbons and petrochemical compounds that are responsible for so much of the global climate change are now being used to slow it down locally.
These tarpaulins have a dramatically short life cycle.
Their effectiveness lies in their whiteness. Their albedo allows them to reflect 78% of solar radiation. But this is also where their fragility lies. Atmospheric smog, present even at 3,000 metres above sea level, accumulates on the porous surface of the fabric, reducing its effectiveness over the course of a season. The following year the sid