Snows of Kilimanjaro could vanish in 20 years: study

A A A

The snows capping Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's tallest peak, are shrinking rapidly and could vanish altogether in 20 years, most likely due to global warming, a US study published Monday said.

The ice sheet that capped Kilimanjaro in 1912 was 85 percent smaller by 2007, and since 2000 the existing ice sheet has shrunk by 26 percent, the paleoclimatologists said.

The findings point to the rise in global temperatures as the most likely cause of the ice loss. Changes in cloudiness and precipitation may have also played a smaller, less important role, especially in recent decades, they added.

"This is the first time researchers have calculated the volume of ice lost from the mountain's ice fields," said study co-author Lonnie Thompson, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University,

"If you look at the percentage of volume lost since 2000 versus the percentage of area lost as the ice fields shrink, the numbers are very close," he said in the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While the yearly loss of the mountain glaciers is most apparent from the retreat of their margins, Thompson said an equally troubling effect is the thinning of the ice fields from the surface.

The summits of both the Northern and Southern Ice Fields atop Kilimanjaro have thinned by 1.9 meters (6.2 feet) and 5.1 meters (16.7 feet) respectively. The smaller Furtwangler Glacier, which was melting and water-saturated in 2000 when it was drilled, has thinned as much as 50 percent between 2000 and 2009, the study said.

"It has lost half of its thickness," Thompson said. "In the future, there will be a year when Furtwangler is present and by the next year, it will have disappeared. The whole thing will be gone."

The scientists said they found no evidence of sustained melting anywhere else in the ice core samples they extracted, which date back 11,700 years.

They said their findings show that current climate conditions over Mount Kilimanjaro are unique over the last 11 millennia.

News
news
Sport
Danny Cipriani of England breaks clear to score his second try
rugby
Life and Style
New research says leaving your desk can help you to avoid serious illness
health
Arts and Entertainment
tvSPOILER ALERT: Like a mash-up of 28 Days Later, Braveheart, The Killing and Lord of the Rings, this GoT episode was a belter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager / CAD Engineer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is the UK subsidia...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral