Researcher Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist on the south peak, Kebnekaise. Photo: Carl Lundberg

Researcher Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist measures the height of the south peak at Kebnekaise, which in July has decreased by four meters due to the warm summer. Photo: Carl Lundberg
 

“I have never seen so much snow that has melted on the south peak as this summer”, says Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, Professor of Geography with a focus on physical geography at the Department of Physical Geography, as well as head of Tarfala research station at Kebnekaise.

She has carried out the annual measurements of Kebnekaise’s south peak for many years as part of the research on climate change.

Kebnekaise’s south peak is Sweden’s highest point, but its height varies depending on the weather.

The south peak consists of a glacier and, like all glaciers in Sweden, it has melted a lot during this extremely warm summer. On July 2, about a month ago, she measured the height of the south peak to 2101 meters above sea level. On July 31, the height of Kebnekaise’s south peak was 2097 meters above sea level.

Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist measures the south peak at Kebnekaise. Photo: Pär Axelstierna
Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist measures the south peak at Kebnekaise. Photo: Pär Axelstierna

“During this time, four meters of snow and ice have melted, an average of 14 cm per day. It’s going very fast now. The result of the hot summer will be a very big loss of snow and ice in the mountains”, says Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist.

The latest measurement shows that the south peak is only 20 cm higher than the nearby north peak that consists of rock and reaches 2096.8 meters above sea level.

“The forecast is that the south peak will be lower than the north peak from the beginning of August”, says Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist.

A new measurement of the south peak’s “yearly” height will be carried out when the melting has stopped in the end of summer. The height of the glacier is determined by the balance between the amount of winter snow and the temperature during the summer. Last year the difference was two meters between the south and north peaks.

The measurements of Kebnekaise are performed with a so-called differential GPS with 2 cm accuracy. The south peak has been measured since 1880. The glacier has melted with an average of 1 meter per year during the past 20 years.