Scottish Snow Patch Melts for Only 10th Time in 300-Years as UK Records Year’s Highest Temperature

SnowBrains |
sphinx scotland melts
The Sphinx on September 2nd, 2023, before finally melting away later in the week. Credit: Iain Cameron

Famous for having melted entirely just nine times in the last 300 years, Scotland’s Sphinx (as it is affectionately referred to) has now melted for the 10th time as the country recorded its hottest day of the year at 90.86ºF (32.7ºC). The UK’s longest-lasting snow patch resides in a corrie called Garbh Choire Mor on the third-highest peak in the UK, Braeriach, in the Scottish Cairngorms.

The snow patch melted earlier this week, marking the fifth time it has vanished since 2017. Until a century ago, the Sphinx was considered a permanent feature on the 4,252 foot (1,296 meter) Munro, named after a nearby climbing route.

Braeriach, scotland, glacier, uk, britain, snow, melted
Location of Garbh Choire Mor on Braeriach, Scotland.

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, 2018, 2021, 2022, and now 2023. The earliest recorded melting of the snow patch was August 23rd in 2003.

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.

Braeriach, scotland, glacier, uk, britain, snow, melted, sphinx melts
Iain Cameron, holding ‘The Sphinx’ in his hands. Credit: Iain Cameron

Related Articles

Got an opinion? Let us know...