June through October is typically an extended dry period at the summit of Kilimanjaro, with ablation of horizontal glacier surfaces often increasing once the seasonal snow cover is gone. During September and October this year, ablation was especially pronounced on the Northern Ice Field, despite above-average snow cover at the end of May. Ablation will continue at this pace in November until the 'short rains' begin and snow cover is restored.
To illustrate, average net surface lowering at the weather station (2 sensors) was 30 cm in both October and September, following 19 and 22 cm in August and July, respectively. New records were established for net ablation over 2-, 3-, and 4-month intervals (since 2002).
Analysis of October 2010 field measurements is just getting underway, including those from a network of ablation stakes, but it appears that surface ablation may have been more normal on the southern glaciers. With our Innsbruck colleague's full instrumentation on that side, it will be fascinating to further investigate these spatial patterns of mass and energy flux.