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Taking measurements on Kebnekaise, Source: Bolin Centre for Climate Research at Stockholm University

Sweden’s highest peak lost 2 metres due to global warming

Sweden’s highest peak lost 2 metres due to global warming

Because of this, Kebnekaise’s southern peak got demoted to second place

Kebnekaise is Sweden’s highest massif. It is located in the north, not far from the Norwegian border and its particularity lies in the fact that it has been progressively losing altitude since measurements began there in the 1940s. This is possible because of two factors – the first is that the peak is part of the body of a glacier and the second is that rising temperatures have been melting said glacier.

On 14 August, Stockholm University reported that the southern peak of the massif is now two metres lower than it used to be last year and currently measures at 2094.6 metres. This also means that the neighbouring northern peak is now Sweden’s highest point (2096 metres).

Kebnekaise comes from a Sami expression meaning ‘cauldron crest’

The measurements, carried out by Stockholm University, show that the south peak's snowdrift varied in both height and shape during the 20th century. The height fluctuates two to three meters between summer and winter. Normally the peak is at its highest in May and lowest in September.

One may wonder what the big deal is then. The answer is straightforward – the peak has never been this low in all of the 75 years of measurements. And that might be a cause for concern.

According to glaciology professor Per Holmlund, this event is indicative of the glaciers' response to Sweden's increasingly warmer climate.

Think about it. Back in the 1980s Swedish students used to read in their geography textbooks that the country’s highest point measured 2111 metres. Naturally, there is still a chance that the southern peak will grow back once again during the winter and recover its primacy. However, it also seems certain that its best days are behind it. At least, if it is any consolation, climbing it will be a tad easier.

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