Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mid-month snow

On 11 May, snow began accumulating on the Northern Icefield. Through this morning there has been ~4 cm of net accumulation. Not much in the context of most mountain locations - but enough to raise albedo considerably on the glaciers. Hopefully the event will continue for another couple weeks; Juliana Adosi at the Tanzanian Meteorological Agency tells me that the long rains are forecast to end at the end of the month.

-Doug Hardy, UMass Geosciences

Manuscript flurry

Three papers on Kilimanjaro glaciers have been submitted within the past month, and are now in the review process. The sole-authored encyclopedia entry provides a comprehensive overview of the glaciers characteristics and processes. The other two take rather different perspectives and will be sure to stimulate discussion. Stay tuned!

Submitted to The Holocene: Is the decline of ice on Kilimanjaro unprecedented in the Holocene? (Georg Kaser, Thomas Mölg, Nicolas Cullen, Douglas Hardy, and Michael Winkler).

Submitted to Springer’s Encyclopedia of Snow, Ice and Glaciers.: Kilimanjaro. (Douglas Hardy).

Submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA (PNAS): Glacier Loss on Kilimanjaro Continues Unabated. (Lonnie Thompson, Henry Brecher, Ellen Mosley-Thompson, Douglas Hardy, and Bryan Mark).

Friday, May 8, 2009

In the beginning, there was Carlos

The beginning of our work on tropical glaciers, that is. Carlos Escobar was our guy in 1996 as we set out to begin climate research on Volcan Sajama in Bolivia. Not just to reach the summit at 6,542 m, not just to camp there for days, but to operate the world's highest-elevation satellite-linked automated weather station. Carlos made it happen and kept it fun, first on Sajama, then on Illimani... the consummate guide who became a friend to us all. And the help and friendship came not only from Carlos, but the whole Escobar family, especially brother Jose Mauro, wife Grissel, niece Monica, Mateo and his other children. International projects can't happen without people like Carlos, who solve the problems and make all the stress of high-elevation research worthwhile.

Today, Carlos passed away after struggling for months with brain cancer. Carlos, our Guía Internacional de Montaña, co-author, Everest summiter just 3 years ago this month, and buen amigo. Compounding the normal emotions is a terrible feeling of helplessness; for all Carlos and his family provided us, not being there to help in such a difficult time is painful...

To all the Escobars, know that all who worked with Carlos and your family are thinking of him, and you. Memories of him live on with each of us. Be strong, live strong...

Doug and the UMass crew

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Long rains late

April was another month of net ablation. There was a small snowfall event which began late in March (see 4/10 entry below), but otherwise there was only a few cm on ~21 April.

May could turn out to be snowy however, as it did in 2003 and 2007 following dry March and Aprils. Conversely, the long rains were finished entirely by this time in 2002, 2004 and 2006 - and failed completely in 2000.

At any rate, for the previous 12 month interval, mass balance on the Northern Ice Field has easily been the most negative of the decade.