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Sparks

Mont Blanc Just Shrunk By 7 Feet

Heat is taking a toll on its peak.

Mont Blanc.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

An estimated 20,000 to 30,000 climbers attempt a summit of France’s Mont Blanc each year — a task that will be slightly easier in 2023, as the mountain’s peak has shrunk by more than 2.2 meters, or over seven feet, the equivalent of NBA star Victor Wembanyama, since 2021. Measurements of its height have been taken every two years since 2001 to assess the impact of climate change on the Alps, and this year’s measurement struck surveyor Denis Borel as “somewhat exceptional.” The shrinkage was “quite considerable compared to the measurements of previous eras,” he told French television channel TF1.

Mont Blanc is sheathed in a cap of ice, which shrinks in warmer, drier years, and grows in colder, wetter years. Depending on future precipitation, “Mont Blanc could well be much taller in two years,” according to Jean des Garets, the area’s chief surveyor. However, since 2013, when the mountain reached a height of 4,810.02 meters, its peak has steadily declined. “It is hard to believe we are going to recuperate a few meters over the next two years. There is a lot of variation, but there is a slight downward trend,” Farouk Kadded of Leica Geosystems said. “Normally, Mont Blanc gains one meter from June to September, but that did not happen this summer because [of] several days of positive temperatures, even a record of 10 degrees Celsius.”

Though des Garets said that the team was “gathering the data for future generations; we’re not here to interpret them,” it seems that the iconic mountain's decline is yet one more effect of recent months’ disturbingly — some might say gobsmackingly bananas — warm temperatures.

Green

Jacob Lambert

Jacob is Heatmap's founding multimedia editor. Before joining Heatmap, he was The Week's digital art director and an associate editor at MAD magazine. Read More

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