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Sweden's formerly highest peak melts to lowest point ever

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Sweden's formerly highest peak melts to lowest point ever
Kebnekaise's southern peak photographed on September 3rd. Photo: Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist/Stockholm University
08:28 CEST+02:00
Sweden's tallest mountain Kebnekaise's southern peak has shrunk by 24 metres in the past five decades, official figures show as its glacier continues to melt in sweltering Arctic temperatures.

A popular tourist destination located in Sweden's far north, Kebnekaise has two main peaks – the southern one, which is covered by a glacier, and the neighbouring northern one, free of ice.

The southern peak has previously been the highest of the two, but after battling global warming for years it lost out to its northern rival last year. And this year its new status as runner-up was consolidated.

READ ALSO: Sweden's Arctic region has its hottest day since records began

Kebnekaise's southern peak now stands at only 2095.6 metres, 1.2 metres lower than the northern peak's 2096.8 metres, according to fresh figures by researchers at the Tarfala mountain station.

"This is the lowest height ever measured. Over the past 50 years, the height of Kebnekaise's southern peak has decreased by 24 metres," said Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, geography professor at Stockholm University and in charge of the annual measurements of Kebnekaise, in a statement on Thursday.

READ ALSO: Concern for climate as Sweden's highest peak melts away

Kebnekaise was measured on September 3rd using GPS with a few centimetres' margin of error. The mountain has been measured every year since the 1940s, with the earliest records dating back to 1902.

The height of the snow-covered southern peak ranges by about three metres depending on the season, and the peak is at its tallest in May after the winter snowfall and lowest in September after the summer.

The northern peak is expected to eventually become Sweden's tallest point year-round.

READ ALSO: How to climb Sweden's now second-highest peak

This makes climbing to Sweden's highest point significantly more challenging. Unlike its southern cousin which can be climbed by any reasonably fit person with sufficient equipment and planning, scaling the northern peak requires serious mountain experience, a guide and proper climbing equipment.

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