New detailed GPS readings taken on the 15-16th September have shown that Mont-Blanc measures 4810.9 meters. Mont-Blanc is covered by a thick ice-cap which has thickened by 2.15 meters in just 2 years but more suprisingly the volume of the ice has nearly doubled. At least that is, according to the “Géomètres experts de Haute-Savoie”.
Le Mont Blanc in the summer
The volume of ice was calculated for the first time in 2003. It measured 14,600 cubic meters above 4800 meters. It was just 14.300 cubic meters in 2005, possibly due to the 2003 heat wave with positive temperatures even at 5000 meters altitude. However the icecap has nearly doubled since then and now measures 24.100 cubic meters.
According to Chamonix’s respected local weather forecaster, Yan Giezendanner the growth in the size of the ice-cap is one of the perverse effects of global warming. “Snowfall hasn’t increased overall in the Alpes but with the climate change we are seeing more warm westerly winds which bring rain lower down but in summer this translates to dense snowfall that settles above 4000 meters altitude – hence the volume of the ice-cap is growing”. Contrast this to the situation the during winter where snow crystals are extremely cold and are easily transported by wind so don’t settle on the summit.
Despite this growth Mont Blanc still has a long way to go before it catches Elbrus, Europe’s tallest mountain situated in the Russia Caucasus. Elbrus measured 5642 meters at the last reading.