Why Does Mount Kilimanjaro Have Snow And Ice

Geology of Mount Kilimanjaro

Mount Kilimanjaro is the largest free-standing mountain in the world, standing tall in northern Tanzania. It is also the highest mountain in Africa, towering at a height of over 19,000 feet. This majestic mountain’s summit is made up of three volcanoes – Mawenzi, Shira, and the highest point, Kibo. The slopes of Kilimanjaro are covered in ice, which is an unusual sight in the tropics.
The mountain is made up of layers of different types of rocks, with the top layer being porous basalt. This porous rock has a heat-insulating effect, trapping heat from the sun during the day and slowing down the escape of heat during the night. This traps moisture in the air, creating the clouds and precipitation necessary for the glaciers and ice caps to form.
The geological composition of the mountain is also responsible for contributing to the area’s unusual weather patterns. The mountain blocks the oncoming warm air from the Indian Ocean, creating different weather patterns on either side. The western side of Kilimanjaro is much wetter than the eastern side, with higher rainfall and more snow and ice accumulation.

The Climate of Mount Kilimanjaro

The climate of Mount Kilimanjaro is generally mild year-round, although temperatures can range from warm to cold at different elevations. The summit of Kilimanjaro is quite cold due to its high altitude. In addition, a winter snow cap typically forms on the mountain’s peak during the colder months.
The annual snowfall on Kilimanjaro can range from 12 to 24 inches. Temperatures at the summit can drop to below 14 degrees Fahrenheit during the coldest months. This rapid drop in temperature, combined with the higher precipitation in the region, contributes to the high accumulation of snow and ice on the mountain, which is particularly impressive considering Kilimanjaro’s equatorial location.

Melting Glaciers

The glaciers atop Mount Kilimanjaro have been melting for more than a century now. Between 1912 and 2011, it has been estimated that the glaciers have reduced in size by more than 85 percent. The retreating glaciers have been largely attributed to climate change, with rising global temperatures steadily melting the ice.
In addition to climate change, human activities have also caused the glaciers to melt. These activities include deforestation, air pollution, and the excessive use of fossil fuels which have all contributed to global warming and the melting of the snows of Kilimanjaro.

Effects of Melting Glaciers

The melting glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro have a number of negative effects on the ecosystem. For one, the inadequate water supply in the area has decreased, meaning less water is available for the local population and the wildlife. This can have a significant impact on the region’s agriculture and the livelihoods of people living there.
In addition, melting glaciers also lead to a rise in sea levels, contributing to global warming and ocean warming. With rising sea levels, there will be an increased risk of flooding and coastal erosion. This can have devastating consequences for coastal areas.

Preserving Glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro

Fortunately, there are a number of organizations working hard to help preserve the glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro. For example, the Kilimanjaro Initiative is a project that seeks to combat global warming and reduce the risk of further glacier melt. Through education and advocacy, the group aims to raise awareness about climate change and the need to reduce carbon emissions.
In addition, the Kilimanjaro Indigenous Forest Program works to protect the mountain’s unique range of flora and fauna by establishing protected areas around the mountain. The organization also works to reduce deforestation and increase the amount of protected land in the region.


Mount Kilimanjaro is a unique and majestic mountain that stands tall in northern Tanzania. Despite its equatorial location, it is covered in snow and ice due to its high altitude and the effects of its geological composition. However, the glaciers on Kilimanjarohave been steadily melting due to climate change and human activities. Fortunately, a number of organizations are working hard to preserve the glaciers and reduce the risk of further glacier melt.

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.

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