Monday, June 4, 2012

2012 dry season begins

One of the most consistent elements of climate on the Northern Ice Field has been cessation of Masika (long rains) by the beginning of June. This year was no exception, with accumulation of snow ending ~17 May. Another extended dry season has begun on Kilimanjaro.

Don't expect to see glacier ice exposed at the surface anytime soon however, as considerable snowfall occurred in the 6+ weeks prior. This followed a notable event in early March, and a snowy short rains (especially November). Indeed, there has been 75 cm of net snow accumulation on the glacier surface since early-October fieldwork! During the forthcoming dry season this clean, relatively-bright snowcover will reflect much more solar radiation than the underlying, decades-old ice surface would, effectively reducing ablation of horizontal surfaces. As a result, large areas of the glaciers are likely to remain snow covered through the dry season.

By September, penitentes could be well developed on the glaciers. Although both beautiful and fascinating, these will render glacier travel more difficult during September fieldwork.

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