Climate change: Famous Mount Kilimanjaro snow disappearing

Insight

Climate change: Famous Mount Kilimanjaro snow disappearing

It’s one of the most distinctive features of one of the world’s great mountains: the snowcap atop Africa’s Mount Kilimanjaro. The snow of Kilimanjaro is gradually disappearing and experts say it may be completely gone by the end of this century. CCTV’s Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

Climate change: Famous Mount Kilimanjaro snow disappearing

Climate change: Famous Mount Kilimanjaro snow disappearing

It's one of the most distinctive features of one of the world's great mountains: the snowcap atop Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro. The snow of Kilimanjaro is gradually disappearing and experts say it may be completely gone by the end of this century. CCTV's Hendrik Sybrandy reports.

Scientists are divided on why the snow is disappearing. The debate could affect the world’s understanding of climate change.

On a cool late June morning in northern Tanzania, hikers gathered at the Machame Gate, one of the entry points to Mount Kilimanjaro. Their journey to 5,895 meters, or 19,300 feet, wass about to begin.

The trek up Africa’s tallest mountain starts in a rain forest. It ends in a snowfield even though Kilimanjaro is just 320 kilometers from the equator.

It was day two of the climb. The hikers were heading from Machame Camp to Shira Camp. It’s about six miles in all, very steep and pretty arduous. However, the snow of Kilimanjaro that hikers constantly keep in their sights are vanishing.

“Glaciers on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro have shrunk dramatically since the mid-19th century and are still continuing to shrink quite rapidly,” said Tad Pfeffer, of the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research.

Experts disagree on the cause of the glacial retreat. Some argue global warming has triggered snowmelt, including Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore in his award-winning climate-science documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Meantime, many scientists believe the atmosphere above Kilimanjaro is getting drier, not warmer.

Even in the brutally thin air, it’s clear Kilimanjaro’s snow is far from all gone. This mountain remains an important laboratory for studying glacier loss around the world and for measuring the effect of climate change on atmospheric circulation.

Glaciologist Tad Pfeffer says snow may hang around Kilimanjaro for at least several more decades. Even after that, he predicts Kilimanjaro’s beauty will suffer.

The impacts of climate change are seen not just on snow-covered mountain tops, but also on grass-covered yards. CCTV’s Sean Callebs reports.

What is the impact of human activity on climate change?

What is the impact of human activity on climate change?

The impacts of climate change are seen not just on snow-covered mountain tops, but also on grass-covered yards. CCTV's Sean Callebs reports.


Follow Sean Callebs on Twitter @seancctv

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