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article imageSnows of Kilimanjaro shrinking rapidly

By Bob Ewing     Nov 3, 2009 in Environment
The latest survey of the ice fields remaining on the mountain indicate the remaining ice fields atop famed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania could be gone within two decades and perhaps even sooner.
The study was carried out by paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson, professor of earth sciences at Ohio State University, and colleagues.
The study’s findings were published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and indicate a major cause of this ice loss is very likely to be the rise in global temperatures.
The university media release says it is possible changes in cloudiness and precipitation play a role, they appear less important, particularly in recent decades.
Between the years 2000 to 2007, the loss by thinning was roughly equal to that by shrinking.
The study’s findings include the following:
• 85 percent of the ice that covered the mountain in 1912 had been lost by 2007, and 26 percent of the ice there in 2000 is now gone;
• A radioactive signal marking the 1951-52 “Ivy” atomic tests that was detected in 2000 1.6 meters (5.25 feet) below the surface of the Kilimanjaro ice is now lost, with an estimated 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) missing from the top of the current ice fields.
The release quotes Thompson saying, “This is the first time researchers have calculated the volume of ice lost from the mountain’s ice fields. 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.”
The research was sponsored primarily by the Paleoclimate Program of the National Science Foundation with additional support from the Climate, Water and Carbon (CWC) Program at Ohio State University.
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