Sweden’s highest mountain peak has shrunk by 2 meters in one year due to the melting of the glacier that covers it, a new study has found.
The Kebnekaise Glacier, captured in an image of the European satellite Sentinel 2 on July 28, has lost a third of its mass in recent years due to climate change, according to a statement of the European Copernicus Earth observation program, which handles Guard Earth observation constellation.
Measurements of Mount Kebnekaise began in the 1940s, according to Bolin’s center for climate research at Stockholm University, which is responsible for monitoring. These observations show that the height of the southern peak of the mountain varies throughout the year due to snow drift and recession of ice this summer. It is usually highest in May and lowest in mid-September. The difference between the winter and summer heights can be up to two or three meters.
When the university’s geologists measured the height of the mountain on 14 August, they found that it was the lowest since the measurements began. At 6,872 feet above sea level (2,094.6 meters), the height of the summit was almost 2,6 m below the Aug 2020 value of 2,896.3 feet (2,096.5 m). The summit is likely to lose at least another 0.5 meters in mid-September, the researchers added.
Related: Record temperatures, clouds of fire and drought will ravage the earth in 2021
“The height variation is a good symbol for the glaciers’ response to a warming climate in Sweden,” says Per Holmlund, professor of glaciology at the Bolin Center in Tarfala Research Station, who led the measurements. “When hikers climb the summit today, they pass a flat section – a ‘pre-peak’ – which did not exist in the early 2000s. Since 2020, the peak is 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) lower, but” pre – peak ‘has grown by up to 1.2 meters (3.3 feet). ”
Average air temperatures in the region have risen, according to the researchers, which caused the ice to melt at a higher rate. The effect on the southern peak of Kebnekaise has been further exacerbated by changing wind patterns, affecting the accumulation of snow in winter.
Knebnekeise’s southern summit was previously Sweden’s highest summit. But now this title has officially gone to the northern peak of the mountain, which is more rocky and therefore resistant to the changing climate.
The melting of the glaciers was mentioned in a condemning report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) earlier this month as one of the undisputed signs of a deterioration climate change. The report described the degree of glacier loss as “unsurpassed” over the past 2000 years and predicted that the worrying trend will continue for centuries to come.
With its unobstructed view from above, satellites help scientists monitor glaciers and ice sheets around the world and reveal the effects of climate change. The European Union’s Copernicus Earth observation program currently handles a constellation of nine Sentinel satellites that monitor various aspects of the Earth’s environment.
Follow Tereza Pultarova on Twitter @TerezaPultarova. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.