Thursday, June 2, 2011

Synopsis of 2010-11 wet seasons

By the first of June an extended dry season is typically underway at the summit of Kilimanjaro, one of the most reliable features of a climate with considerable interannual variability. In a regional context, this dry season follows the "long rains" (Masika) which generally encompass much of the 3-month interval March through May. A second, shorter wet season (Vuli) happens in November-December and is somewhat more variable in magnitude and timing.

This year, neither Vuli nor Masika resulted in net accumulation, which will likely result in tremendous ablation on Kilimanjaro's horizontal glacier surfaces during the next 5-6 months. Just how little accumulation was there? Well, between 1 Nov. and 1 June (encompassing both accumulation seasons), a 30 cm net lowering of the Northern Ice Field was very consistent between the two sensors (i.e., -28 and -32 cm). For the same interval of 2009-10, the surface increased by over 60 cm.

During the brief dry interval between Vuli and Masika (usually occurring during January and/or February), ablation also predominated, except for one snowfall event detailed earlier that turned out to be the largest snowfall event of either 2010-11 wet season, and the largest since the previous May.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! slideshow and commentary of the longterm glacial retreat is particularly welcome.

    I see the mean temperature as -5.9 C. Where can I find daytime and nighttime variation for the summit? I have checked your UMass site as well...