Friday, July 29, 2011

Dry Season Ablation

Dry conditions continue at the summit, likely reflecting dryness on larger and longer time/space scales. Telemetry from the weather station reveals only 3-4 snowfall events since October, with the largest being that in mid-February as previously noted. One minor snowfall of a few centimeters in June served to brighten the surface slightly, enhancing reflection of solar radiation. Nonetheless, the surface lowered by ~5 cm during June and has increased this month.

Just north of the Kilimanjaro region, drought conditions are contributing to severe famine, with over 10 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. Although suffering and displacement are greatest in Somalia, large areas of Ethiopia and Kenya are struggling with food insecurity. A map posted on the Reliefweb site shows the geography of the problem as of mid-July; Kilimanjaro is just south of Kenya's southernmost Emergency Zone on the map. Another graphic from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network provides further details.

[UPDATE 8/8:  NASA's Earth Observatory website has been covering the developing drought since last autumn when rainfall was below normal, and has posted a series of SPOT and other images. There is also an overview discussion on how the tropical Pacific is involved, through La Nina teleconnections.]