The Snows are disappearing

Whiskey Bar: Modernizing Hemingway
Brad DeLong’s Semi-Daily Journal: The Geological Formation Formerly Known as the Snows of Kilimanjaro


Both Brad de Long and Billmon pointed out the stunning picture of the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa, almost completely bereft of its famous snowpack (cf Hemingway’s story).
Climate Change, it seems, does not stay its hand even for the mightest mountain in Africa.
In Swahili Kilima Njaro means shining mountain, but the glaciers and snow cap that kept the summit white, probably for 11,000 years – despite the location, in Tanzania, 200 miles south of the equator – have, as you can see, almost disappeared.

3 thoughts on “The Snows are disappearing”

  1. A note: Glaciers are not a good indicator of rising/sinking temperature. The extent of a glacier has much more to do with the amount of precitiation than the temperature.
    So the conclusion is that it snows less on Kilimanjaro than it did before.
    It would be very interesting to know for how long the Kilimanjaro glacier has been shrinking.

  2. That’s why I specified Climate Change, rather than simply Global Warming, because precipitation changes probably are more of a factor. Still, those precipitation changes are likely due to the same umbrella of climate changes including Global Warming.
    From what I understand, samples of the glaciers done indicate that the glacier itself is 11k old, which means its been there since nearly the beginning of the current interglacial period.

  3. As far as I understand we do not know very well at all how Global Warming would affect precipitation. The results I have seen from different models have not agreed with each other at all on this point. So to infer that this is connected with Global Warming is not safe, in my opinion.
    The evil non-obvious extension of the glacier shrinking question was: For how many thousand years has the glacier been shrinking, or is it only a recent phenomenon?
    Yeah, I know I play the Devil’s Advocate now. I’m doing my best to fight the attitude that changes in nature are inherently bad, and most probably due to human influence.
    It’s in the nature of nature to change. We have to face that.
    But it is ok to mourn the disappearance of the Kilimanjaro glacier: it was after all beautiful.
    I do think that man changes the climate of the Earth. I’m not sure what to do about it though. If we had any idea of how to do it. Lowering living standards is not an option. Nuclear power could help, but people seem to be unwilling to risk that.
    I am not sure how effective environmental scare could be as a political tool; but it is something to watch out for.

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