Mont Blanc is shrinking: Mountain loses 7.28ft in height in two years

Mont Blanc is SHRINKING: Mountain has lost 7.28ft in height over the last two years as rising temperatures melt the icy peak

  • Mount Blanc is now 15,766.4 feet (4,805.59 metres) in height
  • This is over seven feet (two metres) smaller than it was two years ago 

Every year, around 30,000 brave visitors attempt to climb to its icy peak. 

But scaling Mont Blanc is now slightly easier, as research has revealed it has shrunk over seven feet (two metres) over the past two years.

New measurements show that France’s heighest mountain is now 15,766.4 feet (4,805.59 metres) in height.

The 7.28ft (2.22 metre) decline could be down to lower precipitation during summer, said Jean des Garets, chief geometer in the Haute-Savoie department of southeastern France.

‘Mont Blanc could well be much taller in two years’ when it is next measured, he added, saying this was not the first time such a large change had been seen.

Scaling Mont Blanc is now slightly easier, as research has revealed it has shrunk over seven feet (two metres) over the past two years 

Mont Blanc: The highest mountain in Western Europe 

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain in Western Europe and the eleventh tallest summit in the world.

It lies on the border between Italy and France and ownership of the summit was long a subject of dispute. 

The peak forms part of the larger ‘Mont Blanc Massif’, a range which is popular among walkers, climbers, skiers and snowboarders alike. 

The mountain’s rocky peak measures 15,721ft (4,792 metres) above sea level, but its thick covering of ice and snow varies in height from year to year depending on wind and weather.

Researchers have been measuring it every two years since 2001, hoping to garner information about the impact of climate change on the Alps.

‘We’re gathering the data for future generations. We’re not here to interpret them,’ des Garets said.

People shouldn’t use the height measurement ‘to say any old thing’, he urged.

Instead, ‘it’s now up to the climatologists, glaciologists and other scientists to make use of all the data we’ve collected and come up with theories to explain’ the shrinkage.

Mont Blanc’s highest recorded summit was in 2007, at 15,783ft (4,810.9 metres).

A 3.2ft (one-metre) fall was measured in 2021 compared to 2017 – after 2019’s unusually low result was kept secret as experts judged it not representative.

‘Mont Blanc’s height has been fluctuating since time immemorial,’ the geometers say.

New measurements show that France’s heighest mountain is now 15,766.4 feet (4,805.59 metres) in height 

READ MORE: Switzerland loses 10% of its glaciers in two years as hot summers ‘dramatically’ accelerate ice loss

Switzerland has lost 10 per cent of its glaciers in the past two years

Within the year, strong winter winds usually scour away more snow than in summer, meaning the peak is higher as autumn begins than in early spring.

‘We’ve learned a lot from these measurement campaigns. We know that the summit is constantly changing in altitude and position, with changes of up to five metres,’ des Garets said.

Faster melting has been observed in Alpine glaciers as a result of climate change.

European glaciers – many at lower altitude than elsewhere on the globe – are especially vulnerable to global warming.

They lost around one-third of their volume between 2000 and 2020, according to scientific data.

In 2022 alone, glaciologists believe up to seven percent of the remaining mass of the glaciers may have vanished.

But one of the Mont Blanc team members, Denis Borel, urged people to ‘stay humble’ about climate’s impact on the mountain.

People shouldn’t ‘draw hasty conclusions about measurements that have only been made precisely since 2001’, he added.

Around 20 people scaled the mountain in mid-September to carry out the measurements over several days, divided into eight parties equipped with high-tech tools and – for the first time – a drone.

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