Sunday, May 27, 2007

Those vanishing snows on Kilimanjaro -- not global warming

Apparently, the inconvenient truth about the retreating glaciers on Kilimanjaro is that its not global warming, rather the increase in sun output that has been observed over the past few hundred years.

CO2 Science
[...]In a final study that describes what has actually happened to Kilimanjaro's glaciers, Cullen et al. (2006) report that "all ice bodies on Kilimanjaro have retreated drastically between 1912-2003," but they add that the highest glacial recession rates on Kilimanjaro "occurred in the first part of the 20th century, with the most recent retreat rates (1989-2003) smaller than in any other interval." In addition, they say that no temperature trends over the period 1948-2005 have been observed at the approximate height of the Kilimanjaro glaciers, but that there has been a small decrease in the region's specific humidity over this period.

In terms of why glacier retreat on Kilimanjaro was so dramatic over the 20th century, the six researchers note that for the mountain's plateau glaciers, there is no alternative for them "other than to continuously retreat once their vertical margins are exposed to solar radiation," which appears to have happened sometime in the latter part of the 19th century. They also say, in this regard, that the "vertical wall retreat that governs the retreat of plateau glaciers is irreversible, and changes in 20th century climate have not altered their continuous demise." Consequently, the 20th-century retreat of Kilimanjaro's plateau glaciers is a long-term response to what we could call "relict climate change" that likely occurred in the late 19th century[...]

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