There has been quite a lot of alarming commentary about the vanishing ice of Mount Kilimanjaro and a new study has added fuel to the fire by claiming that the mountains are being damaged considerably because of aggressive tree felling.
The research was carried out by Dr Nicolas Peppin of Portsmouth University, who wanted to discover why the levels of ice on Kilimanjaro’s summit have depleted so much, as it is believed that only 15% of the amount of ice found in 1912 is now here today. With so much emphasis being put on global warming over recent years, it was this that many held responsible for damaging Kilimanjaro.
Al Gore claimed that Mt. Kilimanjaro’s ice loss was due to global warming, but Nature Magazine offered their opinion, saying “although it’s tempting to blame the ice loss on global warming, researchers think deforestation of the mountain’s foothills is the likely culprit. Without the forest’s humidity, previously moisture-laden winds blew dry. No longer replenished with water, the ice is evaporating in the strong equatorial sunshine.”
Of course it is understandable to see why many people would assume that climate change from global warming would have an adverse effect on Kilimanjaro. There is a strong amount of evidence and the vast majority of us are aware that global warming is occurring, with the average temperature of the earth believed to have increased over the last 100 years and the loss of mid and high-latitude glaciers is a big piece of evidence that suggests this is true.
But the reason why the glacier is shrinking isn’t likely to be as singular as blaming it entirely on global warming. Mount Kilimanjaro’s melting glacier is a complicated issue that isn’t caused solely by global warming and Dr Peppin’s has sought to clear some of the mist from this issue.
Peppin and his team worked between 2004 and 2008 to take temperature and humidity reading from different altitudes of Kilimanjaro and they believed their results could explain why the ice is melting. Their conclusion was that daytime heating around the mountain generates warm air that moves towards the summit, which in turn melts the ice. Trees usually provide the air with moisture but deforestation has prevented this and the result is that dry air is moving up the mountain instead of moist air and this is preventing new ice from forming and existing ice from staying. This research wasn’t done to disprove Gore; there is plenty of evidence that global warming is having an effect on the earth but it isn’t entirely responsible for what is happening at Mount Kilimanjaro. The concern now is how much longer this aggressive deforestation will take place for and who will intervene before Mount Kilimanjaro is affected past the point of return.