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Sweden Has a New Highest Point

Reindeer are suffering, too
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2018 12:10 PM CDT
Sweden's Kebnekaise mountain range.   (Getty Images/vonviper)

(Newser) – Sweden's (former) highest peak has been taken down a few notches, thanks to the summer heat wave currently scorching Europe. Until recently, a glacier perched atop the southern peak of the Kebnekaise mountain rose higher than any other point in the country. But, as of Wednesday, it had melted so much that it now falls a hair below the height of the mountain's northern peak, the New York Times reports. Gunhild Ninis Rosqvist, a geography professor at Stockholm University, says she's "surprised" by the rapid melt-off (about 13 feet during July), per NBC News, "even though it has been ridiculously warm." Once towering 6,892.4 feet, the southern peak was down to 6,879.2 feet as of Friday, per Business Insider. The northern peak measures at 6,879.3 feet.

Rosqvist, speaking to a local Swedish paper, says the melting glacier is symbolic of climate change, per the Times. When first measured in 1880, the southern peak was more than 6,965 feet tall. Since 1995, it has shrunk about 3 feet per year. Still, the southern tip is expected to gain back a bit of lost height during the winter, and the title of highest point may vacillate between the southern and northern peaks in years to come. One consequence of the melting southern peak is that climbers may now opt to tackle the northern peak so they can say they climbed to the highest point in Sweden, a rescue worker tells the Times. And, he says, that peak is "much harder to climb" due to the topography. Record heat has also affected Sweden's reindeer herders, causing a lack of vegetation and snow melt that makes it so "not even the reindeer can find a place to get relief from the sun," Rosqvist says. (Read more Sweden stories.)

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