A study done by a team of researchers regarding Mount Kilimanjaro was recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The team was led by paleoclimatologist Lonnie Thompson, who works for Ohio State University. The study found that the snow and ice cover on the mountain may soon disappear.
Funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the team studied data collected over various points in the last century. The study centered around data collected in 1912 and 1953, which included photographic evidence, and satellite images from the years 1976 and 1989. The researchers compared the past data to the most recent data in this decade.
In stark contrast to 1912, Mount Kilimanjaro in 2007 had at least 85 percent less ice than 1912. In just the seven years between 2000 and 2007, Mount Kilimanjaro lost 25 percent of the ice it had left in the year 2000.
Mount Kilimanjaro has two glaciers, one southern ice field and one northern ice field. Not only are the glaciers reducing in size, they are also thinning much like the sea ice in the Arctic. Between 2000 and 2007, the southern ice field thinned the most. The southern ice field reduced 16.7 feet in thickness, while the northern ice field reduced by 6.2 feet in the same time frame.
The researchers pointed to the fact that other mountains in Africa, South America and the Himalayas are experiencing the same issues. Their conclusion was that the reduction in ice and snow cover is due to global warming. Altered snowfall and cloud cover may also be contributing, but they do not seem to be having a large impact.
The researchers are predicting that in upcoming years the snow and ice currently present on Mount Kilimanjaro, even though the amount is already drastically reduced, may no longer exist at all.