Glacial melting on Mt. Kilimanjaro not due to global warming

by William Yeatman on August 3, 2004

in Science

In a new paper published in the International Journal of Climatology (24; 329-339), Georg Kaser of the University of Innsbruck and colleagues from the University of Massachussets, Amherst, and the Tanzania Meteorological Agency provide more proof that the snows of Kilimanjaro are disappearing owing to factors other than global warming.

In “Modern Glacier Retreat on Kilimanjaro as Evidence of Climate Change: Observations and Facts,” Kaser et al. “develop a new concept for investigating the retreat of Kilimanjaros glaciers, based on the physical understanding of glacierclimate interactions.”

They say, “The concept considers the peculiarities of the mountain and implies that climatological processes other than air temperature control the ice recession in a direct manner. A drastic drop in atmospheric moisture at the end of the 19th century and the ensuing drier climatic conditions are likely forcing glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro.”

The authors reference another study, soon to be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. According to them, “Mlg and Hardy (2004) show that mass loss on the summit horizontal glacier surfaces is mainly due to sublimation (i.e. turbulent latent heat flux) and is little affected by air temperature through the turbulent sensible heat flux.”

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