France’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc, has shrunk by more than two meters in height in the past two years.
Researchers confirmed to AFP on Thursday that the mountain – the highest in the Alps and Western Europe – was measured at 4,805.59 metres.
“This indicates a shrinkage of 2.22 meters and is probably due to lower precipitation in the summer,” says Jean des Garets, chief surveyor in the Haute-Savoie department of south-east France.
However, he believes that in two years’ time – when it is measured again – the Mont Blanc could be much higher again.
“The mountain’s rocky peak measures 4,792 meters above sea level, with its thick covering of ice and snow changing year after year depending on wind and weather.”
Researchers have been measuring the mountain every two years since 2001 in the hope of gathering information about the effects of climate change on the Alps.
“We collect the data for future generations, we are not here to interpret it, we leave it to the scientists,” says Des Garets.
“People should not use the height measurement to say any old thing”, he pleaded.
About 20 people climbed the mountain in mid-September to take measurements over several days. They are divided into eight companies and are equipped with high-tech tools and – for the first time – a drone.
“We have learned a lot from these measurement campaigns, we know that the summit is constantly changing in height and position, with changes of up to five metres,” says Des Garets.