How Much Snow Is On Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro Snow, one of the world’s most iconic mountain peaks, is the highest mountain in Africa towering some 5895 meters above sea level. This colossal massif has five glaciers that have been melting and contracting rapidly due to climate change. In order to track and measure the drastically changing environment on the mountain and how this is causing a shrinking of the snow-capped peak, experts have deployed two snow monitoring systems. The systems are essential for predicting how much snow will remain — or not remain — on the mountain over the coming years.

The University of Arizona’s Department of Hydrology and Water Resources, in collaboration with the Institute for Sustainability and Peace, is using an innovative set of imaging technologies to measure the total snow extent on Kilimanjaro. They use a snow telemetry system, which collects information from the automated stations and transmits it via satellite to the university, where researchers can analyse the data. This system provides invaluable insights not just into the amount of snow on the peak, but also into the changes that have occurred in the snow cover over time.

The other snow measuring system being used is the Geosciences and Environment Laboratory’s “very high resolution imaging” instrumentation. This equipment takes advantage of advanced satellite imaging techniques to measure the amount of snow cover on the mountain in different seasons. This system has enabled researchers to gauge how much snow there is and how rapidly it is receding.

The information collected from both systems is being used to evaluate and understand the severity of the environment’s impact on the snowpack of Mount Kilimanjaro. Experts are confident that using this data, they can make accurate assessments about the mountain’s future snow and ice levels and predict with long-term reliability how much snow will remain. A Swedish study from 2019 suggests that at least 80 percent of the ice on Mount Kilimanjaro is likely to be gone by 2030.

Thanks to the use of these two systems, scientists now have a better idea of the current and projected snow levels on the mountain. The dilemma that arises, however, concerns which kind of response is most effective in terms of mitigating the negative impacts of climate change. Tanzanian officials have proposed the use of artificial snow, while others have suggested modifying the existing glaciers to better distribute their water resources.

These interventions may help protect the peak against further climate-change related snow loss, but they are by no means a cure-all solution. Researchers have a long way to go before they better understand the complexity of the mountain’s changing climate and the effects of human intervention on its environment. Moreover, there are still immense challenges that must be addressed in order for Kilimanjaro’s glaciers to be preserved for future generations.

Preservation of Glacial Resources

Besides monitoring the amount of snow currently on Mount Kilimanjaro, ongoing research is also investigating ways to prevent the further loss of its glacial resources. Primarily, this means focusing on efforts to reduce global warming and refine preventive strategies. One potential solution that has been suggested involves the use of reflective blankets to cover the snow and prevent it from melting.

Another method is the placement of wooden structures on the glaciers to reduce the exposure of the snow to the sun and decrease the heat absorbed by the ice. Other strategies include the use of wind-powered cooling systems or the diversion of water from other sources, to ensure that the snow remains intact and does not melt quickly.

Ultimately, any strategy employed must be integrated with a global framework that is increasingly focused on sustainability and climate change prevention. Maintaining or even increasing the snowpack on the mountain must form part of overall initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other adverse effects.

Education and Advocacy

Furthermore, the preservation of the mountain’s glacial resources is an opportunity to educate and engage global citizens in environmental issues. By launching advocacy and awareness campaigns, a greater understanding can be achieved on how climate change is directly impacting some of the landmark landscapes around the world.

For example, the United Nations Environmental Program has been working with multiple stakeholders to educate local communities at the foot of Kilimanjaro on the importance of the glaciers and the effects of climate change. This type of instructional program has proven successful in raising awareness on the need to take meaningful action in order to prevent further melting of the glacial ice.

In the meantime, with the data from the two snow measuring systems, conservationists and researchers can continue to track the amount of snow on the mountain. It is their hope that with the implementation of preventive measures, long-term conservation goals for the glaciers will be met.

Unique Challenges

Unique challenges are faced as the efforts to preserve the glacial resources of Mount Kilimanjaro continue. The mountain is protected within the Kilimanjaro National Park, making it difficult to construct the infrastructure needed to carry out innovative projects. Moreover, issues of accessibility, financial resources and access to a trained staff can limit progress.

In spite of these impediments, conservationists remain hopeful in their efforts to save the mountain’s snow and ice cover. Precise data obtained from the two snow measuring systems has enabled researchers to review the situation and discuss appropriate measures to protect the glaciers.

At the same time, these challenges also provide an opportunity to increase international cooperation, coordinate more involvement from local communities and build on more constructive dialogue surrounding climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Uncertain Future

Unfortunately, the future for Mt. Kilimanjaro’s glaciers is uncertain. It has been estimated that if the current warming trends continue, the ice fields could vanish within the next decade. This could cause significant water shortages in the surrounding region and further damage to local ecosystems.

Experts recognize that in order to confront this frightening prospect, long-term strategies must be implemented to limit global warming. It is necessary for governments to commit to reducing carbon dioxide emissions and for citizens to become better aware of sustainability practices.

Ultimately, the conservation of the mountain’s glacial resources is an invaluable opportunity to better understand the Earth’s changing climate. Mt. Kilimanjaro is the iconic symbol of climate change and the fight to protect its snow and ice must remain a global priority.

Climate Change Solutions

Climate change has been identified as the main culprit behind the shrinking of the snow-capped peak of Mt Kilimanjaro and the effects of this are being felt not only in the glaciers of the mountain but also in the adjacent ecosystems. To address these challenges, multiple interventions must be considered, from raising awareness and reducing emissions, to utilizing innovative technologies and adapting existing structures.

One such proposal is the implementation of fish farms near the mountain. By using the combination of wind turbines, solar energy and sea water pumps, energy generated at the fish farm would also be used to circulate cold water that could retard the melting of the mountain’s glaciers.

Moreover, scientists have proposed the use of special parachutes that can be dropped from planes to create snowfall and replenish the glaciers. This technique has already proven to be effective against snow loss in the Alps and the Rocky Mountains, and could also be applied in this scenario.

In addition, the use of geoengineering technologies such as stratospheric aerosol injection and cloud brightening could help reduce the surface temperature on the mountain and in turn, slow down the melting of the glaciers. These technologies, however, are not without risk and must be implemented carefully.

The focus should remain on mitigation, adaptation and preventive measures, including the development and deployment of renewable energy sources. However, new and innovative solutions must be explored and rigorously tested in order to achieve a more comprehensive approach to climate change that is better adapted to the specific context of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Policy Coordination

An integral part of the effort to protect the mountain’s glaciers is the coordination of policy initiatives. A multi-level approach is needed in which national, regional and local initiatives are combined to craft a more integrated strategy against climate change. This would enable governments and stakeholders to effectively reduce emissions and better encourage the use of renewable energy sources.

At the same time, greater coordination between the United Nations and various international bodies is needed to create a globally applicable framework. This could include setting goals based on the latest scientific research, developing and adhering to standards for energy production and utilization, and investing in public education regarding the effects of climate change.

In essence, such an approach would require a robust collaboration between governments, universities, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to come up with the best possible solution to combat the rapid loss of Mt Kilimanjaro’s snow and ice.

Herman Shaw is a passionate traveler and avid photographer who has seen many of the world's most awe-inspiring monuments. He has developed expertise in various aspects of world architecture and culture which he enjoys sharing with his readers. With deep historical knowledge and insight, Herman's writing brings life to these remarkable artifacts and highlights their importance in the grand scheme of human history.

Leave a Comment