Famous for having melted entirely just seven times in the last 300 years, Scotland’s Sphinx (as it is affectionately referred to) has now melted for an eighth time. This patch of snow resides in a corrie called Garbh Choire Mor on the third highest peak in the UK, Braeriach, in the Scottish Cairngorms.
The patch of snow, known as the UK’s longest-lasting patch of snow, had shrunk to the size of a piece of paper over the last couple of weeks. It disappeared entirely during recent mild weather.
According to BBC News, in the past 300 years that records have been kept regarding its existence, the snow patch at Garbh Choire Mor has reportedly only melted entirely in 1933, 1959, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2017, and 2018. The acceleration in the rate of annual disappearances is not lost on Scottish snow patch researcher Iain Cameron.
Mr. Cameron informed the Times that there is anecdotal evidence going as far back as the 1700s that seems to confirm that at least some snow had always been present in Scotland up until the first recorded total melt in 1933. He likened the disappearing pockets of snow to “canaries” of climate change (referring to the canaries once carried by miners to serve as the first indicators of the presence of dangerous gases) because they “persist right on the margins” and are highly sensitive to the slightest changes in temperature.
To learn more about the terrain at Garbh Choire Mor on Braeriach, check out Steep Scotland.