Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Processes in opposition

Ablation of seasonal snowcover continues at Kibo's summit, while hints of the forthcoming short rain season are becoming evident. The Sentinel-2 image above shows both continuing ablation since the end of August (see previous posts), and a dusting of new snow on southeastern slopes. This is also a nice illustration of how localized snowfall can be on the mountain.

Light accumulating snowfall is common at this time of year, as is its subsequent ablation within a few days. These opposing processes are especially critical for the glaciers as the dry season concludes, because albedo reaches an annual minimum while temperature, humidity, and solar radiation are all increasing.

In today's image (not shown), partially obscured by clouds, the dusting of snow seen above has completely ablated, and snowcover within the caldera is patchier yet.

While it appears that areas of snow will endure the dry season this year, failure of the short rains - or even a delayed onset - might yet ablate much of the lingering summit snow.

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