Tuesday, June 9, 2020

AWS, long rains end, quiet mountain

Our friend Simon (SENE*) made a trip to the summit caldera recently, and has shared some photos. He kindly detoured his climb to visit the Northern Icefield AWS and inspect our instrumentation. The upper photo illustrates snowcover on the glacier at the end of February. The red circle highlights a replacement temperature/humidity sensor, which with luck is accurately measuring these important variables again.

The second image shows a net 'long-rains' snow accumulation of at least 50 cm. Aside from footprints, the surface texture suggests that a week or more has passed since the last snowfall. On the ascent, Simon estimates ~60 cm of snow beginning
below the caldera rim.

Below is a Sentinel-2 timelapse of snowcover between 18 May and 7 June. The transient snowline can be seen increasing in elevation, with thinning of snow on north-facing slopes. This pattern of ablation will likely continue in the months ahead, as rarely does the 'long-rains' season extend much into June.

Simon reports that the
mountain is currently devoid of people. In the lower right-hand corner of the satellite image is a light-colored, circular area, which is "Barafu Camp" at 4,700 m. This is the last camp used by most climbers, and once the dry season gets underway it is bustling with hundreds of people. The lowest photo shows Barafu this year, with not a single tent visible; only camp infrastructure buildings can be seen.

*Tourism is severely impacting Tanzania, as the case with other destinations reliant upon international tourism. In preparation for a return to something approaching normal, SENE is offering special terms for future trips booked during June - safaris as well as Kilimanjaro climbs.  #TravelTomorrow 

Tanzania's President Magufuli has taken drastic steps to reopen the country, lifting the ban on flights and removing the required quarantine. Time will tell whether this early action was responsible...


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