Sweden’s highest peak, a glacier on the southern tip of the Kebnekaise mountain, is melting due to record hot Arctic temperatures and is no longer the nation’s tallest point, scientists said on Wednesday (1 August).
“I’ve never seen this much melted snow on the southern peak as I did this summer,” said Gunhild Rosqvist, a Stockholm University geography professor.
Rosqvist, who is also head of the Tarfala research station near the mountain, has been measuring the southern peak for many years as part of climate change research.
Kebnekaise, a popular tourist destination located in Sweden’s far north, has two main peaks – a southern one covered by a glacier and a northern one free of ice.
Rosqvist said the southern peak has lost four metres of snow between 2 July and 31 July. This means an average of 14 cm of snow melted every day on the glacier in July, as Sweden experienced record hot temperatures, triggering dozens of wildfires across the country, even in the Arctic Circle.
“This is happening very fast. The result of this hot summer will be a record loss in snow and ice in the mountains,” Rosqvist said.
At its latest measurement, the southern peak reached 2,097 metres above sea level, just 20cm higher than the northern tip’s 2096.8 metres.
“The forecast is that as of 1 August the southern peak is going to be lower than the northern peak,” Rosqvist said.
Last year, the difference between the two peaks was two metres. The southern glacier, whose height has been measured since 1880, has been melting by one metre each year in the past two decades, according to Stockholm University.