POSTED: 12:34 p.m. EDT, June 12, 2007
• Researchers: Global warming has little to do with the decline of Kilimanjaro’s ice
• Kilimanjaro’s decline in ice has been going on for more than a century
• Shrinking occurred two decades before any conclusive evidence of warming
• They attribute the decline to the shape of the ice and decreased snowfall
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The snows of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania have been diminishing for more than a century but probably not due to global warming, researchers report.
While the retreat of glaciers and mountaintop ice in the mid-latitudes — where much of the world’s human population lives — is definitely linked to global climate change, the same cannot be said of Kilimanjaro, the researchers wrote in the July-August edition of American Scientist magazine.
Kilimanjaro’s icy top, which provided the title for an iconic short story by Ernest Hemingway, has been waning for more than a century, according to Philip Mote of the University of Washington in the United States and Georg Kaser of the University of Innsbruck in Austria.
Most of the retreat occurred before 1953, nearly two decades before any conclusive evidence of atmospheric warming was available, they wrote.
Unlike mid-latitude glaciers, which are warmed and melted by surrounding air in the summer, the disappearance of Kilimanjaro’s ice is driven by solar radiation, since the air around it is rarely above freezing, they wrote.
The researchers attributed the ice decline to complex interacting factors, including the vertical shape of the ice’s edge, which allows it to shrink but not expand.
Decreased snowfall, which reduces ice buildup and determines how much energy the ice absorbs, also plays a role.
Much of Kilimanjaro’s ice is vanishing by sublimation — where ice at very low temperatures converts straight to water vapor without going through a watery phase — rather than by melting, the scientists said.
Fluctuating weather patterns related to the Indian Ocean also could affect the shifting balance between the ice’s increase, which might have occurred for decades before the first explorers reached Kilimanjaro’s summit in 1889, and the shrinking that has been going on since.
Don’t expect AlGore to adjust his powerpoint presentation.
Tim Blair says Enough of global warming – let’s hear it for local cooling!
Here’s my entry:
I hope I’m not too late for the Blair Fridge Project.