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Riled Up is a journal of science, the environment, exploration, new technology, and related commentary.  Contributors include scientists, explorers, engineers, and others who provide perspectives and context not typically offered in general news circulation.  For interested readers, additional resources are included.

The Conservation Alliance

The Melting Snows of Kilimanjaro

The Melting Snows of Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro, January 20, 2017 (credit: Landsat-8-Earth Observatory)


Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa (19,340 feet) and one of the famous Seven Summits in mountaineering lore.

The peak's ice cap made famous in the book Snows of Kilimanjaro declined considerably over the 20th Century from a combination of climate change and deforestation of the mountain's flanking forests. Dense montane forests once covered the slopes and were an important part of the mountain's hydrology by providing moisture for clouds to form. To reach Kilimanjaro's summit, trekkers and climbers pass through diverse vegetation zones including dry savanna; rainforest; montane cloud forests; and the hardy Afro-alpine zone (Afro-montane) of scrublands and bogs. The summit is composed of simply rock and ice. The vegetation zones are clearly visible in natural-color images acquired by NASA's Landsat remote sensing satellites. The photograph shows the striking line of deforestation boundary on the mountain's slopes as forests have been replaced by farms leading to Tanzania's national park. A time-lapse series of imagery starting from 1912 shows the situation up to 2013. It has declined further since. WHB

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