Kebnekaise, the highest mountain peak in Sweden, has fallen victim to global heating. Scientists reported that the glacier at the iconic mountain’s summit is shrinking because of rising Arctic temperatures. Now, the peak is no longer considered the highest in the country.
“This is quite a symbol,” said Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, a geography professor at Stockholm University who has been measuring the glacier for years. “A very obvious, very clear signal to everyone in Sweden that things are changing.”
Located in northern Sweden and about 95 miles inside the Arctic Circle, Kebnekaise has two peaks, each of which has been measured regularly since 1880. The southern peak has always been higher, but after scientists measured in early September of this year, they found the northern peak was now the highest by 1.2 meters.
“We suspected this was probably the case last year,” Rosqvist said. “But unfortunately, our measurements were not precise enough. Now we can say with certainty: we are accurate to within a couple of centimeters.”
In fact, the most recent measurements showed that the southern peak was the lowest it has ever been. “Almost all the shrinkage has been in the past two decades when the glacier has lost an average of one meter a year,” Rosqvist said.
But all may not be lost; the glacier could reach its status as the tallest peak once again with winter snow and ice. “It will keep changing for a while,” Rosqvist said. “But the trend is now firmly established and very clear.”
This is not the first time there has been trouble atop Kebnekaise. Sweden reached unprecedented high temperatures at more than 10 degrees Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit, above average in May and July 2018. The Kebnekaise glacier also shrunk by about 4 meters because of the Arctic wildfires.
Although scientists expected this would happen, the official title loss for the southern peak was emotional for the research team. Rosqvist said, “We can see the climate changing before our eyes up here, and we need to do something about it.”
Via The Guardian
Image via Kaj Schmidt