Mont Blanc’s shrinking height raises concerns about climate change impact on the Alps
Mont Blanc, the tallest mountain in France, has experienced a decrease in height over the past two years, according to researchers. The peak of Mont Blanc has been measured at 4,805.59 meters (15,766.4 feet), which is 2.22 meters shorter than in 2021. The shrinking of the mountain’s height is believed to be a result of reduced rainfall during the summer. These measurements are part of ongoing efforts to track the impact of climate change on the Alps.
Chief geometer Jean des Garets, who has been leading the measurements since 2001, stated that Mont Blanc’s summit constantly changes in altitude and position, with variations of up to five meters. While he believes that Mont Blanc could potentially be taller in the future, previous measurements indicate that the mountain has been losing an average of 13 centimeters in height per year. Des Garets emphasized that their role is to gather data for future generations and leave the interpretation to scientists.
The variation in Mont Blanc’s height is attributed to the accumulation of snow and ice at the summit, which is influenced by wind and weather conditions. The researchers suggest that the decrease in height could be due to lower precipitation this year. If there had been stronger precipitation and lower winds, a higher peak would have been recorded.
The shrinking height of Mont Blanc is not an isolated concern. Recent reports have revealed that glaciers in Switzerland experienced their second largest annual loss, which scientists consider a clear symptom of global warming. These observations highlight the urgent need to address climate change and its impact on mountain ecosystems.
To measure the height of Mont Blanc, a team of 20 people climbed the mountain, dividing themselves into eight groups. For the first time, they used a drone to determine the summit’s height. Small receivers were planted in the snow to model the ice cap at the top, emitting GPS signals that provided measurements to the nearest centimeter.
Often referred to as “the roof of Europe,” Mont Blanc attracts between 20,000 and 30,000 climbers each year. To prevent overcrowding, the most popular route up the mountain is limited to 214 climbers per day. Additionally, Mont Blanc holds historical significance, as a climber discovered a box of buried treasure containing emeralds, rubies, and sapphires in 2013. The climber was given half of the box’s contents in 2021, which were valued at approximately £128,000.
The shrinking height of Mont Blanc serves as a reminder of the consequences of human-induced climate change. Heatwaves have become more frequent, intense, and prolonged, and global temperatures continue to rise. It is crucial for governments worldwide to take decisive actions and reduce emissions to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our environment.