Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Short rains begin

On the Northern Ice Field, snow began accumulating on 26 October as the regional "short rains" got underway. Timba at Ahsante Tours & Safaris reports that Kibo was white on Monday Morning (2 Nov.), and telemetry shows that by Tuesday morning 8 cm blanketed the glacier at the AWS.

So for the 2009 dry season, between the last snowfall in mid-June and the end of October, surface lowering at the Northern Ice Field weather station was 52 cm. This amount is not atypical, as the short rains have come more-or-less on schedule. However, since the dry period on Kilimanjaro began in June 2008, ablation has been quite exceptional - over 1.5 meters of ice. An interesting perspective on the East African drought's cumulative impact - just prior to the short rains - can be seen on NASA's Earth Observatory website. Now, in this El Nino year, flooding has become a problem further north in Kenya.

-Doug Hardy, UMass Geosciences

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