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The (Former) Snows of Kilimanjaro?

November 3, 2009
By

Kilimanjaro in clouds by The Blue Boy. Creative Commons.

Kilimanjaro in clouds by The Blue Boy. Creative Commons.

It isn’t news that the ice cap on Kilimanjaro is melting. Fast. But a story in the New York Times shows just how fast. It’s shrunk 26 percent since 2000, the Times says. Eighty-five percent of the ice that was there in 1912 is gone. The photo makes it look like just about nothing’s left.

It seems a no-brainer that it’s the result of human-caused global warming. But the researchers can’t agree. From the Times:

Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the Institute for Geography of the University of Innsbruck in Austria, said that the ice measured was only a few hundred years old and that it had come and gone over centuries.

What is more, he suggested that the recent melting had more to do with a decline in moisture levels than with a warming atmosphere.

“Our understanding is that it is due to the slow drying out of ice,” Dr. Kaser said. “It’s about moisture fluctuation.”

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