Back in November, we published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) which documented changes in ice-covered area on Kilimanjaro since February 2000 (see blog entry with link to paper). Collaborators at the University of Innsbruck had a different perspective on a few elements of the paper, so wrote a Letter to the Editor. Together with our response, the letter was published online April 21st in PNAS Early Edition, and both will remain there until appearing in print.
The Mölg et al. letter is also available here, and the Thompson et al. response is here.
As an active collaborator with all authors involved, I would like to point out that such discussion - in scientific literature - is normal, healthy scientific discourse. This is how the process is supposed to work, and this is one way in which science advances! Our correspondence does not demonstrate uncertainty about whether Kilimanjaro's glaciers are shrinking, or whether they are likely to disappear with a few decades, or whether global warming is likely driving recent shrinkage; we are all in complete agreement on these tenets! Nor do the letters reveal some fundamental divide between research groups. In both cases, dedicated researchers are simply articulating nuanced perspectives gained from varying combinations of arduous fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and/or computer modeling. Given the short history of quantitative measurements from Kilimanjaro, both groups are attempting to make sense of climate-glacier interactions that all agree are complex. Everyone involved is dedicated to developing a better understanding of the mountain's fascinating glaciers.
-Doug Hardy, UMass Geosciences