Jun
13
2007

Snows of Kilimanjaro: Retreating but not from global warming

Snow job?: Researchers who study Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro acknowledge that its snow and ice cap is retreating, but they think other factors are at play other than global warming (Photo by mailliw)
Snow job?: Researchers who study Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro acknowledge that its snow and ice cap is retreating, but they think other factors are at play other than global warming (Photo by mailliw)
Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa has become a poster child in the world-wide climate change debate. But a group of scientists who study the mountain have spoken up to say that it’s probably not the fault of fossil fuels and carbon emissions in the atmosphere that the snows are melting.

In fact, they’ve been very careful to say that they believe climate change is a huge problem facing our globe. They just don’t see it as a factor on the top of the mountain.

In fact, the snow and ice fields at the top of the mountain have been retreating for at least 100 years, long before fossil fuels were being burned in a substantial amounts to impact climate change. Most other glaciers around the world have started their retreats in the 1970s.

Scientists point to two factors on why Kilimanjaro’s snows are diminishing. One is a simple lack of rainfall and moisture on the mountain. There’s little replenishment of moisture for the snows that have melted.

Second is sublimation. That’s sort of the same process that causes food in your frig to get freezer burn. In sublimation, sunshine and dry air change the snow and ice at the top of the mountain so fast that it goes from a frozen state to a gas state without a fluid state. It simply evaporates into the atmosphere.

Researchers who regularly go up on Kilimanjaro say that they see very little evidence of melting on the ice cap. If the snow and ice was melting, it would be soft around the edges. On Kilimanjaro, those edges are sharp and firm.

So, it just goes to show that you continually have to apply skepticism and scientific research principles in evaluating the claims made by the hot science topic of the day.

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

This is why one needs to be careful about blaming global warming. Another theory that I read about that the deforestation at the base of the mountain now allows for warm winds to reah up the side therefore melting more ice.

posted on Sun, 06/17/2007 - 12:53pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Although Mt. Kilimanjaro is not being affected by global warming, one cannot say that global warming is not a problem. There is sufficient evidence that shows global warming is having a huge impact on the stability of the earth's environment.

posted on Sun, 06/17/2007 - 12:59pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Yes you are correct Global Warming is a problem however i do not believe that humans are responsible for it. I believe that humans are contributing somewhat but not in enough ways to really impact the system that GLobal Warming is taking. Look at the ice age there wasn't the pollution there is today yet there was a drastic change in our enviroment. Changes in climate are NORMAL the climate will change over time history has shown us thatover and over again. Also take into consideration that a volcanic eruption can put as much pollution into the air as humans can in 100 years. and volcanoes have been erupting for a very long time. I believe the globe is warming up don't get me wrong there are great statistics that prove that but i do not believe that humans are the main source. If you really want to learn more a great book is one by MIchael Crichton (spelling?) i cant remember the name buti will post it when i find it

posted on Sun, 06/17/2007 - 1:05pm
hola's picture
hola says:

i've climbed this mountain.

posted on Sun, 06/17/2007 - 2:02pm
Anonymous's picture
Anonymous says:

Who is the source who gives this information about the snows on Kilamanjaro?

posted on Tue, 10/16/2007 - 7:54pm

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