Tuesday, February 26, 2019

19 years on the Northern Icefield

This week marks 19 years since AWS measurements began on Kilimanjaro's Northern Icefield (NIF). With enthusiastic help from our Tanzanian crew, Mathias Vuille and I installed a tower into the ice and connected the electronics. Remarkably, the same datalogger continues measurement and control functions, and the same solar panels continue to provide power. Most sensors have been swapped out for recalibration or replacement, yet the original barometric pressure sensor continues reliable measurements every hour.

Ice ablation since 2000 has substantially reduce the areal extent of all glaciers on the mountain. However, this portion of the NIF has "only" thinned by ~5 meters, because the low surface gradient retards meltwater runoff - which then refreezes in place as superimposed ice. Other portions of the NIF, and other glaciers, have thinned more dramatically. For example, ice no longer remains at February 2000 drill sites on the Furtwängler and Decken Glaciers, which were 9.5 and ~20 m thick at the time (respectively).

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