Kilimanjaro’s snow – it’s about land use change, tree cutting

From the we told you so, twice, no make that three times, department, the poster child for climate change is cited in the New Scientist where they say a peer reviewed paper shows that it’s mostly about the trees and evapotranspiration of moisture into upslope winds.

Kilimanjaro 1993, left and in 2000, right Image: NASA/USGS - click

As mentioned in The New Scientist on September 25th, a recently published study in the journal Global and Planetary Change, reveals that due to deforestation, heating that occurs on the  in the day leads to a flow of moist, warm air that flows up the side of the mountain, but that air is not as moist as it once was. The New Scientist has finally caught up to what we’ve known for some time.

Trees in the plains surrounding Kilimanjaro are very important, as they give moisture to the air through evapotranspiration. This study they cite suggests that the excessive and aggressive felling of trees in the last few decades has led to a decrease in the moisture flow up the mountain slopes, where it is deposited as precipitation by orographic lifting.

Since the peak does not get replenished by the water and moisture that the air flow would normally bring from that evapotranspiration from trees, the snowpack starts decreasing. The snowpack compresses into glacier ice, and it evaporates through sublimation. Without additional replenishment, the ice gradually sublimates away, even if the temperature remains below freezing. Anyone who has ever watched ice cubes disappear in a freezer knows about sublimation at below freezing temperatures.

The icepack around Kilimanjaro’s summit is now measured to be approximately 15% of levels measured in 1912. Of course many use Kilimanjaro as a prime example of the effects of climate change. In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore stated that Kilimanjaro’s glaciers were disappearing because of “global warming”.

In fact, Gore’s Kilimanjaro claim failed a test in British court, along with many other claims made in AIT:

Mr Gore’s assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributable to global warming – the court heard the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.

In the recent study, Nicholas Pepin from the University of Portsmouth in the UK suggests that deforestation is the reason for the decline of the snows of Kilimanjaro.

His group has studied the mountain extensively. Between September 2004 and July 2008, the Pepin team took hourly humidity and temperature readings at 10 elevations on the mountain to determine what has actually been happening.

Here’s the paper: Global and Planetary Change, DOI: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2010.08.001

And the abstract:

The montane circulation on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania and its relevance for the summit ice fields: Comparison of surface mountain climate with equivalent reanalysis parameters

N.C. Pepina, low asterisk, E-mail The Corresponding Author, W.J. Duaneb and D.R. Hardyc

a University of Portsmouth, UK

b Universiti Brunei Darussalam, Brunei

c University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States

Received 9 March 2010; accepted 4 August 2010. Available online 15 August 2010.

Abstract

We compare surface climate (temperature and moisture) measured on an hourly basis at ten elevations on Kilimanjaro with equivalent observations in the free atmosphere from NCEP/NCAR reanalysis data, for September 2004–July 2008. On the lower forested slopes the mountain surface is consistently cooler and moister than the atmospheric boundary layer. In contrast, temperatures and moisture on the higher slopes above treeline (~ 3000 m) are decoupled from the free atmosphere, showing substantial heating/cooling by day/night and import of moisture up from lower elevations during daylight hours. The mountain is universally warmer than the background atmosphere at 1500 EAT, the sparsely vegetated upper slopes acting as the focus for the most intense heating. The persistent vapour pressure excesses (>5 mb) in the forest zone move upslope during daylight and subside downslope at night. Strong seasonal contrasts are shown in the vigour of this process, the resultant mountain thermal circulation and its consequences. The synoptic forcing of this process (as represented by flow indices developed from reanalysis wind components), although evident, is relatively weak. This means that upslope flow from the forest zone is an important supplementary source of moisture for the upper slopes of the mountain and that free-air variability, although important, alone cannot account for all the variability in the summit moisture regime. Long-term ice retreat at the summit of Kilimanjaro therefore is most likely to be influenced by changes in local land-use as well as more regional free-air changes.

Keywords: mountain climate; montane circulation; land-use change; ice-field

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52 Responses to Kilimanjaro’s snow – it’s about land use change, tree cutting

  1. R. de Haan says:

    The impact caused by the likes of Al Gore, James Hanson, Mann and the entire Climatgate gang should have resulted in a huge public trial.
    Instead the Climate charlatans get a free pass.
    Something is still very wrong here.

  2. tokyoboy says:

    IIRC, this issue has been settled years ago by several workers, though renewed confirmation strengthens the point.

  3. rbateman says:

    By contrast, Mt. Shasta survived this summer as a picturesque snow-cone visible for a hundred miles. Looks just like the picture on the old Shasta Cola cans. It hasta be Shasta. Last week, it got a fresh coat of new powder.
    Wonder how the snow-cones are doing up Pamela’s way?

  4. savethesharks says:

    “Mr Gore’s assertion that the disappearance of snow on Mount Kilimanjaro in East Africa was expressly attributable to global warming – the court heard the scientific consensus was that it cannot be established the snow recession is mainly attributable to human-induced climate change.”

    “In the recent study, Nicholas Pepin from the University of Portsmouth in the UK suggests that deforestation is the reason for the decline of the snows of Kilimanjaro.”

    ======================================

    Interesting juxtaposition of quotes here. The common ground at least in this point, is “human-induced.”

    BUT…..and that is a big BUT (lol)…there are other forces at work. Joe D’Aleo hinted at both the deforestation and the contribution of oceanic cycles and solar radiation a while back:

    “Temperatures at Kilimanjaro have been cooling for the past 25 years and the retreat is believed connected to reduced cloudiness and precipitation, which may be shifts in precipitation patterns due to the result of the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation and land use changes (deforestation).”

    http://icecap.us/docs/change/GLACIERSANDICECAPS.pdf

    -Chris

  5. jose says:

    Meanwhile, the global signal of glacier mass balance has been negative since about 1970 (Kaser et al., 2006) . Gore made an honest error – the article that first outlined the cause of Kilimanjaro’s rapid decline (see Mote and Kaser, 2007) was published after Inconvenient Truth came out. Kudos to you if you never make assertions that are later proven to be false, but most of us are more fallible than that. And finally, no other articles have referred to Kilimanjaro as a “poster child for climate change” – your insistence on using this term reveals much about your motives.

  6. SSam says:

    Wow… some one actually had the gall to use the word “honest” and “gore” in the same paragraph.

    Oh well, there’s “one born every minute…”

  7. Jack Simmons says:

    jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Gore made an honest error – the article that first outlined the cause of Kilimanjaro’s rapid decline (see Mote and Kaser, 2007) was published after Inconvenient Truth came out.

    Fair enough.

    Most newspapers and magazines have a little section entitled ‘Corrections’. This is where they report on themselves and apologize for the errors.

    When will Al Gore issue a statement simply stating he made an honest error?

  8. Each time the second hand sweeps to the top

    Like dandelions up they pop,

    Their ears so big, their eyes so wide.

    And though I feed ‘em bonafide baloney

    With no truth in it

    Why you can bet I’ll find some rube to buy my corn.

    ‘Cause there’s a sure-as-shooting sucker born a minute,

    And I’m referrin’ to the minute Jose was born.

  9. savethesharks says:

    jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm
    Meanwhile, the global signal of glacier mass balance has been negative since about 1970 (Kaser et al., 2006) .

    ===============================

    So??? Big bl**dy deal! There are some indications to the contrary, but even so, using 1970 as a benchmark is a molecule of a drop in a giant bucket.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  10. savethesharks says:

    jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Gore made an honest error.

    =======================

    Oh….you mean like that “honest error” in addition to the other 34 errors in the documentary??

    34.

    OK….were these 34 “honest”….or were some dishonest errors? LOL

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/goreerrors.html

    Talk about questioning motives.

    Geez. You alarmists are all the same. You really are.

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  11. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From jose on September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm:

    (…) And finally, no other articles have referred to Kilimanjaro as a “poster child for climate change” – your insistence on using this term reveals much about your motives.

    http://scienceblog.com/13432/kilimanjaro-as-poster-child/
    June 10, 2007 (emphasis added)

    Kilimanjaro as “poster child”
    (…)
    That’s what glaciologists Philip W. Mote and Georg Kaser did, as described in the feature article in the July-August 2007 issue ofAmerican Scientist, “The Shrinking Glaciers of Kilimanjaro: Can Global Warming Be Blamed?”. (Readers should note an extensive bibliography in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.)

    Their conclusion: Don’t blame global warming for this one. As the magazine’s sub-headline notes, “The Kibo ice cap, a ‘poster child’ of global climate change, is being starved of snowfall and depleted by solar radiation.”
    (…)

    First Google, then criticize. (Click on link, there are more articles.)

  12. bubbagyro says:

    jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    No articles may have used the term poster child for global warming…they just used it like a poster child for global warming, that’s all! None of Jerry Lewis’ kids are called “poster child for MD”. They are just used that way.

    No one calls Al Gore a “Fatty Pants dirty liar”. I have never seen that in print. He just happens to be a FPDL.

  13. bubbagyro says:

    Oh, kadaka surprised me with actual proof that Jose is full of bean greenhouse gases!

  14. Baa Humbug says:

    jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    Kudos to you if you never make assertions that are later proven to be false, but most of us are more fallible than that.

    True Jose, most of us aren’t. But…
    *Most of us don’t make documentaries based on false science and distribute same all over the world.
    *Most of us don’t tell the rest of the world they must cut back on their living standards whilst raking in millions from the very same alarm.
    *Most of us don’t pretend naturally calving ice shelves were caused by man.
    *Most of us don’t tell the world sea levels are going to rise 90 feet, then proceed to invest in sea side property.
    *Most of us don’t scare the chits out of our youth and brainwash them into doing our bidding.
    *Most of us ARE NOT BLIND Jose. (apologies to Feliciano)
    If I tried to post all of this list I’d take up two threads.

  15. jose says:

    kadaka (KD Knoebel):
    Sorry, but I was obviously not referring to the thousands of blog articles that use this phrase. I could have made that more explicit. Try searching google scholar. Also, the Mote and Kaser article actually says this, referring to An Inconvenient Truth and Kilimanjaro:

    “The disappearing ice cap of the “shining mountain,” which gets a starring role in the movie, is not an appropriate poster child for global climate change.”

    Since no scientists are actually using the phrase “poster child”, and those that do are only doing so to directly oppose to its usage, the criticism still stands. You’re just building up little straw men to knock down again.

  16. david says:

    Surely though, this is the best evidence for “human induced climate change”? Not global, just a very specific region, and i wouldn’t be able to guess what the knock-on effects would be, but this is direct change due to human industry.
    It also goes to show how very complex the natural rythms are, and how unlikely any “computer model” has this kind of data factored in.
    It also shows a way out, to reverse the effects, by planting more trees … not so?
    peace

  17. Olaf Koenders says:

    Jose:

    “And finally, no other articles have referred to Kilimanjaro as a “poster child for climate change” – your insistence on using this term reveals much about your motives.”

    Our only motives are open truth about the politics of climate and, to avoid wasting our own dollars on a fraudulent revenue scheme purporting to be the salvation to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Now that I’ve covered both our motives in a nutshell, let the entertainment continue.. ;)

  18. Olaf Koenders says:

    jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    And finally, no other articles have referred to Kilimanjaro as a “poster child for climate change” – your insistence on using this term reveals much about your motives.

    Our only motives are for absolute truth in climate science and, to avoid the fraudulent taxation of the World’s citizens by governments and self-interest organisations using highly politicised “science” (read: LIES!) to obtain their objectives (absolute power).

    Now that I’ve made both our “motives” clear, let the entertainment continue.. ;)

  19. tryfan says:

    jose:
    Since no scientists are actually using the phrase “poster child”, and those that do are only doing so to directly oppose to its usage, the criticism still stands. You’re just building up little straw men to knock down again.
    ———————————————-
    It’s a case of strawmen, alright, but you’re the builder.
    Nowhere in the article does it say that “poster child” is used as a scientific term. Which it isn’t of course.
    It’s just an expression that refers to the fact that a picture of Kilimanjaro’s diminishing ice cap is often used to illustrate global warming.
    Or would you like to deny that as well?

  20. Les Francis says:

    Unfortunately people like Jose fail to realise that Mr. Gore’s film is not a concerned documentary – it’s a marketing film – A Preamble for the AGW carpetbag industry.
    No mistakes were made here. Everything in it was intentionally put there for maximum effect.

  21. Gareth Phillips says:

    I think we need to start giving New Scientist some credit here for it’s increasingly even handed approach. How long will it be before NS is pilloried by the scientific establishment for stepping out of line?

  22. Richard S Courtney says:

    jose:

    At September 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm you say to Kadaka:

    “Since no scientists are actually using the phrase “poster child”, and those that do are only doing so to directly oppose to its usage, the criticism still stands. You’re just building up little straw men to knock down again.”

    Say what!?

    Since no scientists said the Himalyan glaciers would be gone in a few decades,
    and those that did were only doing so to directly obtain its inclusion in the IPCC AR4, the criticism still stands. You’re just building up little straw men to knock down again.

    Richard

  23. Gareth Phillips says:

    “Surely though, this is the best evidence for “human induced climate change”? Not global, just a very specific region, and i wouldn’t be able to guess what the knock-on effects would be, but this is direct change due to human industry.
    It also goes to show how very complex the natural rythms are, and how unlikely any “computer model” has this kind of data factored in.
    It also shows a way out, to reverse the effects, by planting more trees … not so?
    peace”
    —————————————————————————————————–
    Indeed, that is a good observation, but what we have tried to flag up for some time is that climate can vary for many many reasons, and trashing the environment while we blame everything on climate change is surely the road to hell. We need to wake up and realise that fish stocks fall because of overfishing not climate change, and this model is appropriate to most other areas of the ecology.

  24. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From jose on September 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm:

    Sorry, but I was obviously not referring to the thousands of blog articles that use this phrase. I could have made that more explicit. Try searching google scholar.

    Ah, so now “of course” when you said “no other articles” you really meant “no other articles besides blog articles.” Gotcha.

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003744089_kilimanjaro12m.html
    The Seattle Times (newspaper)
    June 12, 2007

    Kilimanjaro not a victim of climate change, UW scientist says
    (…)
    But most scientists who study Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have long been uneasy with the volcano’s poster-child status.
    (…)

    Oh wait, you said to try Google Scholar.

    The very first result, a pdf copy of an article that exists behind a New Scientist paywall:

    Global warming: The flaw in the thaw
    * 27 August 2005 by Fred Pearce
    * Magazine issue 2514.

    (…) Many climate change activists have seized upon Kilimanjaro as a striking symbol of global warming, a poster child for the shrinking ice caps and glaciers around the world.
    (…)

  25. John Wright says:

    Genuine environmentalists would have properly investigated this from the start. Instead, today’s so-called Greens have only latched onto the observed snow loss as one more pretext to advance their scam.

  26. Mike Haseler says:

    david says:“Surely though, this is the best evidence for “human induced climate change”? Not global, … It also shows a way out, to reverse the effects, by planting more trees … not so? peace

    David,

    the logic of the global warming myth is that we should cut down trees and replant them with oil-producing agri-crops. The message is always that there is too much fossil fuel use in the West and not that there are too many people in Africa cutting down too many trees.

    The global warming myth is a creation of the renewable energy companies, scientists and various other money making scams and has nothing to do with saving trees in Africa, and if you want to save trees in Africa, the first step you’ve got to do is to stop the environmental agenda being hi-jacked by the money making scamsters who run the global warming fraud.

  27. John Wright says:

    jose:September 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm
    “poster child for climate change” – your insistence on using this term reveals much about your motives.
    —————————————————————————————————-
    José, Would you telling us what you think his motives are?

  28. Ian E says:

    Anyone else get the impression that New Scientist is wriggling to get on the right side of the debate before it is too late?

  29. kadaka (KD Knoebel) says:

    From jose on September 28, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Since no scientists are actually using the phrase “poster child”, and those that do are only doing so…

    Since there are no cars that are blue, and those cars that are blue are only blue because…

    Since no mosquitoes bite, and those mosquitoes that do bite are only biting to…

    Gee, how can I possibly respond to such brilliantly constructed logic?
    ;-)

  30. Gareth Evans says:

    New Scientist has lost a lot of respect and a lot of subscribers over recent years, due to their predeliction for regurgitating AGW propoganda. It would be nice to think they’ve suddenly changed their attitude for reasons of integrity, but I suspect the real reasons are commercial.

  31. Mike the skeptic says:

    LOL

    The Reason Kilimanjaro is losing its snow is because of the socialist society of Tanzania. They are cutting down all the trees because socialism has made them dirt poor. So socialism is destroying the snow caps of Kilimanjaro, not capitalism and all the greenhouse gases we produce…

  32. Archonix says:

    Just to backj up what others have said, the term “poster child” tends to be used in a perjorative sense. You don’t usually point out that you’re using something as a poster child in a positive sense – it just gets used as a poster child. Just like there’s never anything about which people will say “this is a panacea”, but only “it’s not a panacea”.

    Claiming that something is not a poster-child because nobody describes it as such on support of it’s use as such is logically incoherent. Why would they?

  33. Tom in Florida says:

    jose says:{September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm}
    “Gore made an honest error”

    Algore is:
    a. one of the most dishonest men on the planet.
    b. one of the most stupid men on the planet.
    c. both a & b

    Hint: the correct answer is “c”.

  34. Pascvaks says:

    Ref – jose says:
    September 28, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    OK. Everyone’s entitled to one of those every so often.

    PS: As I’m sure you’ve noted from your fellow travelers, entitlements are not unlimited, and some on the planet don’t get as many as others for various good reasons; especially if they’re being paid to make them. Once you pass a certain point, no one is going to give you anything. Indeed, they may retract all prior ‘understanding’ for the everyday kind of stupidity we are all guilty of. You have a big heart, but are you sure this gorey fellow really deserves any of your help?

  35. Travis B says:

    What is going on with those two pictures? To me they appear to be the exact same photograph: same shadow line, exact same deforestation pattern, just one is green the other is brownish….to what end?

    Either one or both of these photo’s is “shopped”.

  36. Djozar says:

    I do believe in human induced climate change, just not contributed by CO2. The Dust Bowl in the US in the 1930’s was the first example, where critical grasslands were farmed realizing the top soil. If this article is correct about over foresting, then I’ve got at least two examples. I didn’t notice the IPCC trying to put together a trading scheme for wood.

  37. Ken Harvey says:

    Sorry to seem pedantic, but that mountain is not Mount Kilimanjaro. It is “Kilima Njaro”, Kilima meaning hill or little mountain, and Njaro meaning who knows what. By using the diminutive the locals were possibly taking the p*** out of the German “discoverers”. Last time I was on it fifty some years ago, no one had ever thought of mangling the Swahili language to enunciate the name as a single word.

  38. David A. Evans says:

    Wasn’t there a walk up Kilimanjaro last year to highlight global warming?

    Don’t suppose that was using it as a poster child do you?

    DaveE.

  39. crucilandia says:

    no to mention that the region is under a 25 yr drought

  40. Jason Calley says:

    Travis B says: “Either one or both of these photo’s is “shopped”.”

    You know… my first impression when I went back and looked closely was “No! they are too different!”

    Then I started to look more closely, and the more I looked, the more I think you are correct. If the photo were taken from a nearby much higher mountain, then sure, same location, same time of day, etc., could be very similar. But there is no other higher mountain nearby, no convenient scenic overlook. Assuming these photos were taken by either airplane or satellite, the similarities are phenomenal. Photoshop looks more likely, I think.

    Good eyes there, Travis. Worth researching, maybe overlaying photos for comparison.

  41. DD More says:

    Blame the loss on inadequate government.

    Tragedy on a Bad Day
    Tanzania’s power production playbook reads like a Greek tragedy on a bad day. Chronic shortages and power rationing have been plaguing the country for as long as it has been attempting to industrialise.
    Full-scale crises hit in 1992, 1994, 1997, 2000, 2006, and most recently in late 2009 when consumers were subjected to power cuts of up to 14 hours at a time.
    On the surface, all of these crises were caused by cyclical droughts, which dry up the hydropower dams that Tanzania relies on for most of its power.
    In a country harbouring large natural gas and coal reserves, and the potential for wind and even more hydro power, there really is no excuse for this.
    Grand corruption, in partnership with diffused bureaucratic graft and a general lack of planning, capacity and co-ordination are to blame.
    Stealing public electricity funds appears to have become something of a national pastime in Tanzania over the past two decades. First there was the Independent Power Tanzania Ltd (IPTL) scandal.
    After the ’92 and ’94 droughts, several well-connected local businessmen decided to team up with an unqualified Malaysian company and build an extremely overpriced power plant.
    The government called it a shining example of “South-South” co-operation, and let the ordeal drag on through several court cases and millions of dollars in inflated capacity charges before the plant was finally shut down.
    Then came the drought in 2006, when a $170m emergency power contract was awarded to the Richmond Development Company, which turned out to be a shell company in Texas.
    That year the Ministry of Energy was also struggling to revive the Kiwira Coal Mine, which had been controversially sold in 2005 at an egregiously undervalued price to a company called Tanpower Resources – soon shown as linked to former President Benjamin Mkapa and his former Energy Minister, Daniel Yona.
    But droughts are a regular occurrence in East Africa. The overriding problem is the government’s failure to develop alternative sources of electricity.
    http://allafrica.com/stories/201006211287.html

    If they had developed their power to cheap, reliable electric power, the forests most likely would not have been excessively cut down, saving the snow cap.

  42. cark1 says:

    It seems the volcano is waking up after some 200,000 years, too. How much does that affect the ice sheet?

    Please note, the only source I have of this is a documentary about two men climbing the mountain in 2005. They showed some footage of the crater at the top being split open by a small eruption.

    /Carl

  43. Jason Calley says:

    Travis B says: “Either one or both of these photo’s is “shopped”.”

    Ok, I did an overlay and yes, the photos match perfectly to naked eye judgement. Barring a convincing explanation to the contrary, my opinion is that yes, we have a case of Photoshop ice disappearance.

    REPLY: These are NASA images, done from 3D models.
    http://www.nasaimages.org/luna/servlet/detail/NSVS~3~3~8706~108706:Mt-Kilimanjaro,-1993
    http://www.nasaimages.org/luna/servlet/detail/NSVS~3~3~11330~111330:Mt-Kilimanjaro,-2000
    – Anthony

  44. Tom in Florida says:

    A closer look at the images reveal that apparently the 1993 image is produced during rainy season and the 2000 image during dry season. If you look at the background at the top of the image, the 1993 background is fully green with some clouds but the 2000 background has dry areas and is cloudless. Perhaps that would another reason why the glacier looks different.

  45. Jason Calley says:

    Anthony says: “These are NASA images, done from 3D models.”

    Ha! That makes sense! They match so well because they have been programmed and rendered to match well. Nothing wrong with that, assuming the models have been created accurately.

  46. Mike says:

    Sounds like a case for government land use regulation. So much for that free enterprise nonsense. Do you think land use changes could be causing the decline in Arctic sea ice?

  47. An Inquirer says:

    Jose,
    After watching “AIT” and “Son of AIT,” honesty is not a term that comes to my mind. The video of the house sliding into the sea while talking about Arctic ice is plainly dishonest.
    To say that 2007 is the first time that deforestation was linked to Kilimanjaro’s declining snowcap suggests a lack of diligence. In fact, I participated in a discussion on whether it would be feasible to import coal for electric generation so that local energy needs could be met with electricity rather than wood.
    But let us play your game – let’s assume that Gore made an honest mistake. Where he goes from that mistake is symptomatic of the CAGW movement. Its followers rush to recommendations without a thoughtful review of causes and consequences. To blame Tuvalu’s water problem on global warming via greenhouse gases avoids addressing the true cause, and the problems get worse no matter what is done about greenhouse gases. To blame pine beetle expansion on global warming via greenhouse gases avoids addressing the true cause, and the problems get worse no matter what is done about greenhouse gases. To blame Kilimanjaro’s declining snowcap on global warming via greenhouse gases avoids addressing the true cause, and the problems get worse no matter what is done about greenhouse gases. And the list goes on.

  48. George E. Smith says:

    So why does it take NASA ten years to develop the film from their satellite cameras ?

    That second picture which appears to show the snow scattered all over the regions well below the peak, is dated 2000.

    My calendar today, says it is 2010; so can somebody go and take a picture of what it looks like today.

    I’m sure I have seen pictures that were taken much more recently than 2000; and they showed much more snow on top; didn’t look much different than that earlier photo from 1993.

    So the satellite age is more than 50 years old; and in all that time NASA has only been able to take two pictures of the top of Mt Kilimanjaro. That is simply unforgiveable; seeing as how Mt Kilimanjaro plays a major role in the climate of Planet Earth.

    Could I get some government grant money; so I could visit Africa every now and then, with a private jet at my disposal, so I could fly over MK every now and then to take some more pictures to put in NASA’s collection.

    I’ve got more pictures of the rare Tropical Louvar fish species; than NASA has of Mt Kilimanjaro; and I have never even seen a live one.

  49. crosspatch says:

    I didn’t review all of the comments so my apology if someone already mentioned it but it is obvious that the two photographs were taken in such a way as to make the difference in snow cover look worse than it really might be.

    One was obviously taken during the rainy season and the other during the dry season (and since these seasons don’t abide by the calendar, it is possible they could have been taken on the same date in two different years). Living in California has taught me to notice things like this.

    Notice the clearings in the forest toward the upper portions of both photographs. The vegetation in the cleared portions in the first photo is lush and green (the clearings are still there, they are just lush and a tiny bit harder to notice). In the second photo the vegetation is brown and dry even where you can see that you are looking at exactly the same clearing.

  50. An Inquirer says:

    Concerning more recent pictures, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kilimanjaro_(paulshaffner).jpg has a picture taken June 3, 2007 from a plane at a angle similar to NASA’s pictures. I do not know the months of the two NASA pictures, but the 2007 picture seems to have more snow than the 2000 picture. Other photographs give me the impression that snow extent has increased since 2007.

  51. Braddles says:

    I climbed Kilimanjaro in 1992 (hardest thing I’ve ever done) and in the space of a few days I saw the mountain in both its “1993” state and its “2000” state. It snows on Kilimanjaro, but the snow will disappear (technically, sublime instead of melt) in a matter of days when exposed to equatorial sun.

    I have pictures taken during the climb with the mountain covered in snow, but there was no snow on the summit at all when I got to the top. In fact, I’m sure there was far less snow aound than in the “2000” picture above.

    What’s left is the ice cap remnant inside the crater, which is indeed shrinking, but on a scale of decades, and has been since the mid 19th Century.

  52. 899 says:

    An interesting note: Between the pictures shown, has anyone noticed that the frost line is actually lower in the picture with less snow?

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