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Measuring and modeling the retreat of the summit ice fields on Kilimanjaro, East Africa

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Terrestrial laser-scanning surveys of the south-facing cliff of the northern Ice Field on the summit crater of Kilimanjaro were taken on three occasions, in September 2004, January 2006, and August 2008. By comparing the three scans, the rates of lateral cliff retreat and surface lowering can be assessed. During 2004–2006, the mean lateral retreat was 1.39 m yr–1, falling to 0.89 m yr–1 during 2006–2008. These rates are broadly comparable with previous work using ablation stakes. Surface lowering is much less rapid, at 0.65 and 0.25 m yr–1, respectively. Analysis of seasonal forcings (radiation on a south-facing cliff, radiation on a flat surface, surface vapor pressure, and relative humidity) shows that most of the lateral retreat occurs during the austral summer, when direct radiative input is considerably higher on the south-facing ice cliff. On the ice surface, however, high-sun periods around the equinoxes dominate the surface lowering. Lowering is more during the wet than the dry seasons, which suggests that the current moisture availability on Kilimanjaro is not frequent enough to prevent lowering year round.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-917
JournalArctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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