Thursday, July 5, 2012

June snowfall

Don't expect to see bare glacier ice on Kilimanjaro's glaciers anytime soon - at least not on horizontal surfaces at the summit. Higher than normal snowfall has continued into June, with ~7 cm accumulation on the Northern Ice Field June 9th and 10th and another event beginning June 22nd. Snowfall this late is quite unusual, as the long rains typically finish by the end of May.

For the glaciers, additional new snow will keep albedo high and reduce the absorption of incoming solar radiation. Less absorption will result in less ablation during the forthcoming dry season. No, this does not mean that recession of Kilimanjaro glaciers has ended; 2011-12 snowfall merely demonstrates the expected interannual variability (which our measurements seek to quantify and understand). For travel on the glaciers, the amount of accumulation since November (~75 cm) will likely result in extensive penitentes towards the end of the dry season (i.e., Sep - Oct).

Telemetry data from Kilimanjaro have been examined only to June 24th due to other fieldwork obligations. Stay tuned for an update towards the end of July!

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