Presently available information on the glacier equilibrium line altitude (ELA) is being collected and examined. The historical course of the world’s longest ELA series of 107 years at the Claridenfirn is reviewed together with climatic elements. Further, the changes in ELAs of 70 glaciers the world over are investigated, and a linear plane model for the speed of the ELA shift is proposed as a function of the changing rates of summer temperature and winter mass balance. The four glaciers in Europe, which diverge most from the plane, are investigated in detail. The cause of the divergence is likely due to be the change in solar global radiation. Although a precise quantification of the role of radiation is not possible at this stage for the entire world, the role of solar radiation is investigated for these glaciers. Globally viewed, ten, or 15% of the 70 investigated glaciers, are expected to lose their accumulation areas within the next ten years. Half of all studied glaciers will follow the same fate by the end of this century under the present climatic conditions. If climate change is accelerated, the disappearance of glaciers will occur sooner than presented in this study.
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