Mont Blanc shrinks by foot-and-a-half

Western Europe's tallest peak, the snow-capped Alpine giant Mont Blanc, has shrunk by 45 centimetres (18 inches) in two years, experts said following an official survey.

The new height of Mont Blanc, which lies on the three-way border between France, Italy and Switzerland, is now 4,810.45 metres (15,782.3 feet), just over half that of Nepal's Everest but still the tallest Alpine peak.

The volume of snow and ice coating the summit has also dropped by about a tenth, topographer Bernard Dupont told reporters, adding that this could not be linked directly to the effects of climate change.

Dupont said climate change indicators could only truly be measured on a scale of 30 years or more and that ice temperatures and precipation levels further down the mountain at around 3,000 metres would be a better guide.

The expedition, which included the mayor of French Winter Olympic candidate town Annecy, also found that the highest point on the mountain had shifted 26 metres closer to Italy but remained in France.

Maps, reference guides and school books will be updated accordingly.