Thursday, October 29, 2009


The long dry interval at the summit is over, and snow is again accumulating for the first time since mid-June. Our recent fieldwork aspired to visit the glaciers just before the short rains began, and it seems that our timing worked out. After descending on the 9th, we experienced a heavy, extended rain event the next day at Mbahe (near Marangu). Humidity remained high that afternoon at the AWS, with possibly a dusting of snow. Then snow and sustained high humidity was recorded on the 15th and 16th; during this time Simon reports spending a "hot night" in the crater (i.e., thick cloud cover). AWS measurements show that the wet season really got underway this week on Monday. Telemetry through this morning shows that snowfall continued through Tuesday and Wednesday, with a net of ~4 cm. This is enough to bring the glacier surface albedo up by 20-30 percent!

Fieldwork photos

Here is a link to photos taken on the mountain during Sep/Oct fieldwork. With very little seasonal snowcover due to the drought, we had a rare opportunity to observe glacier margins and ice features. Over the course of a week at the summit, we attended to the automated weather station (AWS), offloaded data from other dataloggers, measured and redrilled ablation stakes, and collected basal-ice samples for dating.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A week at the summit

Just back from fieldwork on the summit glaciers, between 3 & 9 October. Conditions were very dry, allowing us to observe processes un-hidden and un-influenced by snow. Varying weather conditions beautifully demonstrated how sublimation and melting fluctuate in their dominance, even on horizontal surfaces. We came across ablation stakes not seen since 2001 - along with a few surprises buried for perhaps centuries. More photos to follow soon!

-Doug Hardy, UMass Geosciences

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Meltwater Runoff

From Karanga camp on Kilimanjaro (4025m), Doug and Mark Jonas made an important observation today via text msg:  "Extensive ribbons of ice were seen below all of the south slope glaciers; flowing water could be seen even without binoculars from ~3km distance, and was clearly heard." They are anxious to see conditions at the summit. [Late October update: listen here to a recording of this distant meltwater runoff (with White-naped Ravens)]