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Fourteeners in Colorado will soon be listed at new elevations, as will the capitol steps marker in Denver

New study finds Colorado's 14ers are a bit shorter than first thought
New study finds Colorado's 14ers are a bit shorter than first thought 03:25

A new way of studying altitude is adjusting a few things across Colorado, from our well-loved Rocky Mountain peaks to the famous steps at the Colorado State Capitol.

Kevin Moloney/Getty Images  

In 2026 the federal government will be switching over to a new nationwide coordinating system that studies all kinds of data like latitude, longitude and height. The study shows that some of our 14ers are of different heights. With the new data, Huron Peak is now the least tall fourteener of record. It's a few inches shorter than Sunshine Peak.

And the step at the capitol building in Denver which shows an elevation of a mile high? The 5,280-foot marker will also have to move, for a second time.

"Sea level isn't exactly level. So if you can map what that surface is, that's the new zero we're going to do for the entire nation," said Derek van Westrum, a scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Ocean Service. The physicist and gravity scientist led the study in Colorado.

This study has taken 15 years and will have huge implications across all mapping done throughout the country. It emerged from a project called Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum, which is also known as GRAV-D, and it's published in the Journal of Geodesy.

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