Snows of Kilimanjaro could vanish in 20 years: study
Tuesday 03 November 2009
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.
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Refugee facing deportation from Sweden saved by fellow passengers refusing to let plane leave
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...