Tokyo, Jan 20 (efe-epa).- Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, is causing concern in the country due to the lack of snow cover on it this winter, which a recent scientific study has attributed to global warming.
The 3,776-metre (12,388 feet)-high mountain, whose distinctive snow-capped peak is visible on clear days from some parts of Tokyo, located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) away, has been receiving snowfall well below normal for the season.
Satellite images captured by NASA and published last week show a clear difference in an aerial view of the mountain on Jan. 1, when it was covered with a light layer of snow, and another one taken in late December 2013, when it was almost completely covered by snow.
According to the observations of the US space agency, the snow cover on the mountain in December 2020 was the lowest in 20 years and snowfall about 10 percent of the amount that is usually recorded, which is about 12 centimeters (about 5 inches) per week during this period.
In Japan, where the conditions of this mountain, considered a sacred site and the national symbol of Japan, are observed carefully, the unrecognizable sight it is presenting these days has sparked curiosity and even concern among some, who view it as a possible sign of a coming eruption of this active volcano.
A team of scientists from Niigata University provided an insight into the phenomena after discovering that the forests at the foothills of Mount Fuji have grown to a height of over 40 meters over the past four decades due to an increase in average temperatures and carbon dioxide concentrations in the air required for the trees.
This development, which the experts attribute to global warming, has resulted in the mountain forest limit – the border between the mountain’s snow covered peak and the forests – rising progressively, thereby reducing the characteristic white mantle of snow that covers Mount Fuji’s summit, according to the study published by the university at the end of December.
The scant snow on Japan’s highest mountain also contrasts with the heavy snowfall and cold wave that has been affecting the north-eastern part of the country since the start of the year.
The average monthly temperature at the summit of Mount Fuji remains below freezing for most of the year and reaches minus 22 degrees Celsius in the winter months. EFE-EPA