Sorry, Mount Jackson: The U.K.'s New Tallest Mountain Is Ice Cold

An image shows Mount Hope from the east.
An image shows Mount Hope from the east. (Image credit: Alan Vaughan/BAS)

The United Kingdom has a new tallest mountain, though the formation stands 10,200 miles (16,400 kilometers) south of London.

Mount Hope, part of the British Antarctic Territory (BAT), has been revealed to stand 10,654 feet (3,247 meters) above sea level — 1,236 feet (377 m) higher than the mountain's last measurement. That makes Mount Hope 180 feet (55 m) taller than Mount Jackson, the United Kingdom's previous tallest mountain, which is also located in the BAT.

Did Mount Hope stretch during an earthquake? Did it ride that huge magma bulge in the Antarctic crust higher into the atmosphere? Nope. It just wasn't measured properly the first time around.

For many mountains, official heights are still measured from the ground. That's a complicated process involving trigonometry and relying on several different measurements lining up, with lots of room for human error to creep in.

Researchers are slowly but surely updating all the world's mountain measurements based on much more precise data from orbiting satellites, and that's what led to Mount Hope's new tallest title, according to a statement from the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). [Photos: The World's Tallest Mountains]

Of course, U.K. folks may not feel like Mount Hope is their tallest mountain. Secluded as this landform is on the nearly uninhabited Antarctic continent, most citizens of the United Kingdom are unlikely to see Mount Hope in their lifetimes.

The title of tallest mountain in the British Isles — where U.K. residents generally live — belongs to Ben Nevis in Scotland, a mountain which itself "gained" some height in a remeasurement in March 2016. Ben Nevis' measurement on official maps increased from exactly 1,344 m (4,409 feet) to just under 1,344.5 m (4,411 feet).

None of these mountains are particularly tall by U.S. standards. Mount Rainier, located a few hours' drive from Seattle, is 14,410 feet (4,392 m) tall, almost half again as tall as Mount Hope. North America's tallest mountain, Denali, located in south-central Alaska, is nearly twice as tall as Mount Hope, at 20,310 feet (6,191 m).

The more-precise measurement of Mount Hope is critical for the safety of researchers who fly through the BAT, the BAS said in the statement.

Originally published on Live Science.

Rafi Letzter
Staff Writer
Rafi joined Live Science in 2017. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from Northwestern University’s Medill School of journalism. You can find his past science reporting at Inverse, Business Insider and Popular Science, and his past photojournalism on the Flash90 wire service and in the pages of The Courier Post of southern New Jersey.