Tuesday, October 11, 2011


We are just back from a productive trip to the mountain, spending 6 days at the summit glaciers. Typically, the dry season extends into October, but this year, rain and snow were a near-daily occurrence. One evening, snowfall accompanied by lightning and thunder collapsed our dining tent. Such variability keeps the work interesting!

Our primary objective was recovering data, changing-out instruments, and servicing the weather stations for another year of autonomous operation. For example, surface lowering of the ice (due ablation) required us to lower one of the stations further into the glacier. This was accomplished by considerable chiseling of ice, to create a one-meter deep hole. We also measured and re-drilled mass balance stakes, conducted GPS surveys, and re-photographed glaciers. This year we recovered 48 additional ice cores, which were kept frozen until reaching the laboratory freezer.

A selection of images from the fieldwork is below. For a day-by-day account of the adventure, check the "Kibo2011" group on Facebook. Additional images can be seen here.

Special thanks this year to Carsten Braun (Westfield State University), Tanzania National Parks, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, and to Simon and crew at Summit Expeditions and Nomadic Experience (SENE). All were extremely helpful, for which we are most grateful.

Image #1 (above).  Northern Ice Field margin.

Image #2.  Kersten Glacier, just below Uhuru Peak. One year ago the upper and lower sections were still connected!

Image #3.  Little Penck Glacier, continuing to retreat and now clearly separated into two parts.

Image #4.  Northern Ice Field (distant) and the two sections of Furtw√§ngler Glacier (foreground). Compare the Furtw√§ngler image with that from 2002 (click here).

Image #5.  One component of the UMass station, including instruments compatible with the U.S. Climate Reference Network (CRN). Note mass balance stake to left.

Image #6.  The original UMass AWS, with Uhuru Peak in distance. Barely visible against the rock background is the "RimeCam" - acquiring 3-hourly images to help assess measurement quality.

Image #7.  Swiss collaborators from Paul Scherrer Institute working through heavy snowfall, coring the Northern Ice Field's vertical wall. Our objective here is refining the history (chronology) of glaciers on Kilimanjaro.

Image #8.  A less-fortunate visitor to Kibo's glaciers... reminding us how important safety is at nearly 6,000 meters elevation.

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