Location and scenery

The Morteratschgletscher is located in the Bernina Alps, in the Swiss province ("Kanton") Graubuenden, close to Sankt Moritz. The glacier was selected for this project because of good accessibility, appropriate size, and typical valley-glacier geometry. Logistics are simple and relatively cheap, because a helicopter base is just a few minutes away (Samedan). The Morteratschgletscher is a great tourist attraction, but this never led to serious problems with the instruments.

Map showing the location of the Morteratschgletscher in the southeast corner of Switzerland (Kanton Graubuenden) Old cartoon of the Bernina mountains. Red dashed line shows the Diavolezza (D.) cable car, dotted black line the famous ski route over the Morteratschgletscher (8 km). P. is Pontresina; S.M. is Sankt Moritz. Photo of the glacier basin taken by Christina Rothenbueler from a glider. Piz Bernina is the highest mountain of the region. Note the yellow Sahara-dust layer melting out in the mid-elevation range of the glacier.

Coordinates and size. The Morteratschgletscher has a length of about 7 km. In 1860 the glacier was about 2 km longer than today.

The accumulation area between Piz Cambrena and Piz Palue. Researchers from the Alfred Wegener Institut, Bremerhaven, are measuring the annual gain of mass. Photo by Ph. Huybrechts. Bellavista (left) and Piz Bernina seen from Diavolezza. The lower part of the Persgletscher is in the forefront. J.O. The junction of Persgletscher and Morteratschgletscher seen from Munt Pers. Note the small lake near the centre of the picture. The lake is dammed by lateral moraines at two sides. J.O.

The snout of the Morteratschgletscher seen from Munt Pers (photographed from a height of about 800 m above the valley floor). Side moraines and trimlines are very marked. J.O.
From the path to the Morteratschgletscher one can see how plants and trees colonize recently deglaciated terrain. In fall the larch trees turn gold. Note the tall side moraines. J.O.

Approaching the glacier front. Note the cave in the debris-covered ice at the right-hand side. J.O. A close-up of the cave, which formed in the summer of 2004 and survived for more than a year. J.O. The glacier stream leaving the glacier at the lowest point of the glacier bed (at the left-hand side). J.O.
Lakes in front of the glacier. In late fall the discharge in the glacier river becomes very small, the silt settles and the lakes turn blue. J.O. A deeply eroded meltwater channel on the lower part of the tongue. This channel developed during two melt seasons. J.O. A look from the glacier tongue to the western side moraine. J.O. Find the Automatic Weather Station (AWS) J.O.