Thursday, October 18, 2012

Furtwängler Glacier update

Furtwängler Glacier (foreground) and the Northern Ice Field on 27 September 2012, as seen from just west of Uhuru Peak. Although the mass balance on Furtwängler's horizontal surfaces was slightly positive for 2011/12, shrinkage of the glacier continues due to recession of the vertical walls.

Recent recession of the Furtwängler is well documented by annual GPS surveys. These reveal that although continuous, the rate of recession is not constant. For example, with an extended period of snowcover in the crater during the past year, area only decreased by ~3%. However, over the past 5 years, ice extent has decreased ~35%, and since the Feb. 2000 air photos renewed interest in Kilimanjaro's glaciers, 59% of the ice area has disappeared. In conjunction with ~6-7 meters of thinning since 2000, the loss of ice volume is considerably greater!

To view the Furtwängler Glacier in greater detail, two GigaPan panoramas are available. The western portion is here and embedded below, and clicking through will provide a link to another GigaPan of the eastern portion (also available here).

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