Years until glacier vanishes
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Climbed 08/12/2015


Tanzania | 5895m

Evidence of ice loss on Kilimanjaro comes in many forms. In the 1950s, several countries carried out atomic bomb tests in places like Australia and the Pacific, sending radioactive dust or ‘fallout’ around the world. This fallout settled on surfaces including the snow and ice of Kilimanjaro where it could still be easily detected 50 years later. In 2000, this fallout was detected at 1.6m below the surface of the ice on Kilimanjaro’s glaciers. Today, it is no longer there, showing that this depth of ice has been lost. In fact, the southern ice fields on the summit of Kilimanjaro have thinned by 5m, and, according to NASA’s satellite photography, approximately 85% of the glacial ice on Kilimanjaro disappeared between 1912 and 2011. These data are supported by measurements on the ground. Ice melt here is due to reduced rainfall rather than warmer temperatures which are the main cause for the disappearing glaciers in Uganda’s Rwenzori Mountains. According to the world’s leading glaciologist, Professor Lonnie Thompson, from Ohio State University, Kilimanjaro’s glaciers have been here for 11,700 years. Now they are literally drying out.


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