Climate change keeps Italy's alpine rescuers busy

The Marmolada glacier was once big enough for Austrian soldiers in World War 1 to build a seven-mile maze of tunnels inside but today nothing remains of the network of alleyways and sleeping quarters known as Ice City.

The 18 peaks of Italy's World Heritage listed Dolomites are facing an onslaught of rising temperatures caused by climate change - glaciers are shrinking and more frequent avalanches are likely.

Twice a month throughout the year, members of the Italian Alpine Rescue Service, such as doctor Luca Filetici, gather for avalanche training - 2,000 metres up the mountain.


"Statistics say that anyone buried under the snow after an avalanche has a greater chance of survival if they are pulled out from the snow within fifteen minutes so we should arrive and pull him out within fifteen minutes, which is actually very difficult. So we always work under this pressure knowing that we have to get there as fast as possible."

Experts have calculated if the glacier continues to shrink at the current level it will have disappeared by 2090.

The area is visited by hundreds of thousands of skiiers each year but, as in most places in the Alps, artificial snow has to be regularly pumped from machines day and night in order to keep the pistes usable.

For those who live and work in the Alps, they have learnt to cope with the changing conditions.

Over the coming years they'll have to scale higher up the mountain to continue skiing, and shrinking glaciers will mean less fresh water supply.