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Europe’s Highest Mountain Mont Blanc Shrunk Over 2 Meters

Mont Blanc, Europe's rooftop, sees a dip in elevation attributed to climate change.
Mont Blanc, Europe’s rooftop, has seen a dip in elevation attributed to climate change. Credit: John Mason / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The tallest mountain in France has become shorter in the past two years, as reported by experts. Mont Blanc, which is the highest point, now stands at 4,805.59 meters (15,766 feet 4 inches), which is 2.22 meters less than it was in 2021.

Leading expert in measuring land, Jean des Garets, suggested that this reduction in height might be due to lower rainfall this past summer.

Routine monitoring of the mountain

Researchers routinely measure this mountain in the southeastern part of France every two years. They do so to study how climate change is affecting the Alps.

Jean des Garets and his team have gained significant insights about Mont Blanc since they began measuring it in 2001. He mentioned, “The summit is constantly changing in altitude and position, with changes of up to five meters.” He further added, “Mont Blanc could well be much taller in two years.”

However, historical measurements suggest otherwise. After the 2021 measurement, experts noted that, on average, the mountain was losing approximately thirteen centimeters in height each year.

“We’re gathering the data for future generations,” des Garets emphasized. “We’re not here to interpret them, we leave that up to the scientists.”

Nevertheless, he also advised caution, urging people not to draw hasty conclusions based solely on the mountain’s changing height.

Elevation of the Mont Blanc

The rocky tip of Mont Blanc stands at an elevation of 4,792 meters above sea level. However, the actual height of the mountain can change due to snow and ice at the summit.

The amount of snow and ice there is influenced by wind and weather conditions. Researchers have suggested the recent reduction in height might be due to “lower precipitation,” which means there has been less rain and snow this year. If there had been more rainfall and less wind, we might have measured a higher peak.

It is important to note that Mont Blanc is not the only place of concern. Just last week, it was reported that glaciers in Switzerland have experienced their second-largest annual loss of ice. Scientists consider this a clear sign of global warming.

Height of the roof of Europe

In the previous month of September 2023, a team of twenty individuals embarked on a mission to climb Mont Blanc for the purpose of measurement. This endeavor spanned several days and involved the team dividing themselves into eight smaller groups.

Notably, this marked the first instance in which they employed a drone to ascertain the summit’s height. The process of determining the mountain’s height involves the placement of small receivers in the snow to create a model of the ice cap at its peak.

These receivers emit a GPS signal, which is then harnessed to calculate the measurement with precision down to the nearest centimeter.

Mont Blanc is often referred to as “the roof of Europe,” and it draws an estimated twenty thousand to thirty thousand climbers each year. To prevent overcrowding and ensure safety, the most popular route leading to the mountain’s summit restricts daily access to a maximum of 214 climbers.

More studies on Mont Blanc

In 2013, a climber made an extraordinary discovery on Mont Blanc: a buried treasure chest containing valuable emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. In the year 2021, he was rewarded with half of the treasures, which were valued at over $156,000.

Mont Blanc’s highest officially recorded height was 4,810.90 meters (15,783 feet and 79 inches) in 2007.

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