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General characteristics of temperature and humidity variability on Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

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Hourly temperature and humidity observations were obtained over 16 months from loggers ranging in elevation from 1890 to 5800 m a.s.l. up the southwestern slope of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. The vertical gradient in mean air temperature is non-linear, with the treeline weakening the gradient and the snow-ice line enhancing it. On average, moisture availability (both relative humidity and absolute vapor pressure) decreases with elevation, but the seasonal and diurnal variability in relative humidity (RH) is enhanced toward the mountain summit. The strong diurnal cycle in humidity is shown to be an outcome of strong upslope moisture transport during the day, counterbalanced by downslope transport and drying at night. Cooling on the lower slopes during the months of June and July weakens the lapse rates and consequently convective activity. This is borne out by the reduction in cloud amounts (using a surrogate threshold of RH . 95%), toward the summit during these months. The lower slopes of Kilimanjaro are observed to be a major moisture source for the summit region, and implications of this for the mass balance of the summit glaciers are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-334
Number of pages12
JournalArctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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