Friday, April 23, 2010

Kilimanjaro returns to PNAS

Back in November, we published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) which documented changes in ice-covered area on Kilimanjaro since February 2000 (see blog entry with link to paper). Collaborators at the University of Innsbruck had a different perspective on a few elements of the paper, so wrote a Letter to the Editor. Together with our response, the letter was published online April 21st in PNAS Early Edition, and both will remain there until appearing in print.

The M├Âlg et al. letter is also available here, and the Thompson et al. response is here.

As an active collaborator with all authors involved, I would like to point out that such discussion - in scientific literature - is normal, healthy scientific discourse. This is how the process is supposed to work, and this is one way in which science advances! Our correspondence does not demonstrate uncertainty about whether Kilimanjaro's glaciers are shrinking, or whether they are likely to disappear with a few decades, or whether global warming is likely driving recent shrinkage; we are all in complete agreement on these tenets! Nor do the letters reveal some fundamental divide between research groups. In both cases, dedicated researchers are simply articulating nuanced perspectives gained from varying combinations of arduous fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and/or computer modeling. Given the short history of quantitative measurements from Kilimanjaro, both groups are attempting to make sense of climate-glacier interactions that all agree are complex. Everyone involved is dedicated to developing a better understanding of the mountain's fascinating glaciers.

-Doug Hardy, UMass Geosciences

Friday, April 9, 2010

Singing at the summit

Here are a few audio recordings from the cook tent, by the singing crew of October 2009 (above). Only those who ascend slowly with good equipment are capable of such joyful singing at nearly 6,000 meters. Thanks to everyone at Summit Expeditions!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Long Rains begin

Here is an out-the-car-window shot of Kilimanjaro from 21 March (courtesy Michael Winkler, Innsbruck Univ.), with a mantle of fresh snow. Michael departed from a snow-free crater on the 19th. By the 21st, my telemetry data from the Northern Ice Field does not indicate accumulation (cf. this south-side view), suggesting that snowfall was primarily on the south side. This asymetry is typical of snowfall during the Long Rains (March-May). However, appreciable snowfall on the Northern Ice Field did begin in the evening of the 22nd and continued at least into the 23rd; additional smaller events continued sporatically up to today. On the 27th, Timba from Ahsante Tours & Safaris wrote that in Moshi it was "pouring big time" and that the "mountain has been on an all time white look since last week." He says that "the SE prevailing winds have begun" and the long rainy season is in "full swing."