Mount Kilimanjaro, located in Tanzania, is the highest mountain in Africa and is renowned for its glistening array of glaciers. Unfortunately, these glaciers have been in a rapid state of retreat over the past 100 years due to climate change.
History of Kilimanjaro’s Glaciers
Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers are a beautiful sight that has made the volcano a popular tourist destination and a symbol of Tanzania. The mountain has been covered in glaciers for over 11,000 years and has had two periods of glacier recession: one between the 17th-19th centuries and the other since the 20th century. In 1912, the glaciers covered 12 square kilometers of the mountain, while today they cover less than 2 square kilometers.
The decrease in glaciers is evident in the fact that the Furtwängler Glacier, the highest and largest glacier on the mountain, has shrunk by over 80% since 1912. Moreover, the northern ice field, which once contained 11 separate glaciers, has completely melted away, leaving 11 small patches of ice.
Causes of Glacier Retreat
The retreat of Kilimanjaro’s glaciers is largely due to climate change. Warmer temperatures have caused the glaciers to melt at an accelerated rate, leading to a sharp drop in ice thickness. Recent research has shown that the average temperatures at the summit of Kilimanjaro have increased by 1.5°C over the past 100 years. As a result, the accumulation of snowfall on the southern side of the mountain has decreased significantly.
The decrease in precipitation, combined with rising temperatures, has resulted in a dramatic decrease in glacial mass. This has not only led to the disappearance of the glaciers located on Kilimanjaro’s slopes, but has also caused an increase in the size of the mountain’s deserts and the alpine tundra.
The rapid retreat of Mount Kilimanjaro’s glaciers is a stark reminder of the effects of climate change. The glaciers are a vital part of the ecosystem of the mountain and their disappearance has had profound consequences for the wildlife and the local economy. It is therefore essential that we take steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and ensure that we protect the future of our planet.