Saturday, April 5, 2014

Tourists who desire to see Mount Kilimanjaro snows now have a reason to smile, as local ecologists say –“the ice is here to stay”.

Mount Klimanjaro  recent  out look photo

Kilimanjaro National Park ecologist, Imani Kikoti told a team of visiting journalists here that the glacier is till sufficient contrary to earlier projection that would vanish between 2015 to 2020.

Prof. Lonnie Thompson from United States of America, in 2002 declared that the snow could disappear within 15 years from that time due to effects of climate change.

“We are comfortable that the ice will not disappear as it was predicted by an American academician” Mr Kikoti said, adding that there are several ongoing studies on the same.

According to him, several initiatives such as massive tree planting around the mountain have somehow mitigated because they boosted the forest cover and consequently reduced the effects of global warming.

He implored residents of Kilimanjaro to continue planting the tree if the snow of the Mount Kilimanjaro, a major tourist’s attraction will remain steady.

Acting KINAPA Park warden, Eva Mallya, said that majority of tourists who climb mount Kilimanjaro every year are normally thrilled by the permanent ice-caped summit, than anything else.

For instance, last financial year, Mount Kilimanjaro attracted over 50,000 tourists across the world, leaving behind around Tsh 80 billion to the economy.

Kilimanjaro's glaciers are disappearing. The ice fields Ernest Hemingway once described as "wide as all the world, great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun" have lost 82 percent of their ice since 1912—the year their full extent was first measured.
If current climatic conditions persist, the legendary glaciers, icing the peaks of Africa's highest summit for nearly 12,000 years, could be gone entirely by 2020.

"Just connect the dots," said Ohio State University geologist Lonnie Thompson. "If things remain as they have, in 15 years Kilimanjaro's glaciers will be gone."

When Thompson's reports of glacial recession on Kilimanjaro first emerged in 2002, the story was quickly picked up and trumpeted as another example of humans destroying nature. 

It's easy to see why: Ice fields in the tropics—Kilimanjaro lies about 220 miles (350 kilometers) south of the Equator—are particularly susceptible to climate change, and even the slightest temperature fluctuation can have devastating effects.

"There's a tendency for people to take this temperature increase and draw quick conclusions, which is a mistake," said Douglas R. Hardy, a climatologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, who monitored Kilimanjaro's glaciers from mountain top weather stations since 2000.

 "The real explanations are much more complex. Global warming plays a part, but a variety of factors are really involved."

According to Hardy, forest reduction in the areas surrounding Kilimanjaro, and not global warming, might be the strongest human influence on glacial recession.

 "Clearing for agriculture and forest fires—often caused by honey collectors trying to smoke bees out of their hives—have greatly reduced the surrounding forests," he says. The loss of foliage causes less moisture to be pumped into the atmosphere, leading to reduced cloud cover and precipitation and increased solar radiation and glacial evaporation.

Evidence of glacial recession on Kilimanjaro is often dated from 1912, but most scientists believe tropical glaciers began receding as early as the 1850s.

 Stefan L. Hastenrath, a professor of atmospheric studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, has found clues in local reports of a dramatic drop in East African lake levels after 1880. Lake evaporation indicates a decrease in precipitation and cloudiness around Kilimanjaro.

"Less cloud coverage lets more sunlight filter through and hit the glaciers," Hastenrath said. "That increase in sunlight then provides more energy for evaporation of the glacier."
Hastenrath found further evidence in sailing expedition reports from the same period.


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