Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Fabled Equatorial African Icecaps To Disappear

Date:
May 15, 2006
Source:
American Geophysical Union
Summary:
Fabled equatorial icecaps will disappear within two decades, because of global warming, a study British and Ugandan scientists has found. An increase in air temperature over the last four decades has contributed to a substantial reduction in glacial cover, they say. The Rwenzori Mountains are home to one of four remaining tropical ice fields outside of the Andes. The researchers expect these glaciers to disappear within the next twenty years.

Speke Glacier bounded by steep scarps within the Rwenzori Mountains National Park (Uganda) in June 2003.
Credit: Photo : Richard Taylor / Department of Geography, University College London

Fabled equatorial icecaps will disappear within two decades, because of global warming, a study British and Ugandan scientists has found. In a paper to be published 17 May in Geophysical Research Letters, they report results from the first survey in a decade of glaciers in the Rwenzori Mountains of East Africa. An increase in air temperature over the last four decades has contributed to a substantial reduction in glacial cover, they say.

The Rwenzori Mountains--also known as the Mountains of the Moon--straddle the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Uganda. They are home to one of four remaining tropical ice fields outside of the Andes and are renowned for their spectacular and rare flora and fauna. The mountains' legendary status was set during the second century, when the Greek geographer Ptolemy made a seemingly preposterous but ultimately accurate statement about snow-capped mountains at the equator in Africa: "The Mountains of the Moon whose snows feed the lakes, sources of the Nile."

The glaciers were first surveyed a century ago when glacial cover over the entire range was estimated to be 6.5 square kilometers [2.5 square miles]. Recent field surveys and satellite mapping of glaciers conducted by researchers from University College London, Uganda's Makerere University, and the Ugandan Water Resources Management Department show that some glaciers are receding tens of metres [yards] each year and that the area covered by glaciers halved between 1987 and 2003. With less than one square kilometer [half a square mile] of glacier ice remaining, the researchers expect these glaciers to disappear within the next twenty years.

Richard Taylor of the University College London Department of Geography, who led the study, says: "Recession of these tropical glaciers sends an unambiguous message of a changing climate in this region of the tropics. Considerable scientific debate exists, however, as to whether changes in temperature or precipitation are responsible for the shrinking of glaciers in the East African Highlands that also include Kilimanjaro [in Tanzania] and Mount Kenya." Taylor and his colleagues found that in the Rwenzori Mountains since the 1960s, there are clear trends toward increased air temperature without significant changes in precipitation.

A key focus of the research is the impact of climate change on water resources in Africa. Glacial recession in Rwenzori Mountains is not expected to affect alpine river flow, the scientists say, due to the small size of the remaining glaciers. It remains unclear, however, how the projected loss of the glaciers will affect tourism and local traditional belief systems that are based upon the snow and ice, known locally as "Nzururu."

"Considering the continent's negligible contribution to global greenhouse-gas emissions, it is a terrible irony that Africa, according to current predictions, will be most affected by climate change," added Taylor. "Furthermore, the rise in air temperature is consistent with other regional studies that show how dramatic increases in malaria in the East African Highlands may arise, in part, from warmer temperatures, as mosquitoes are able to colonize previously inhospitable highland areas."

The research was funded by The Royal Geographical Society and The Royal Society.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Geophysical Union. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Geophysical Union. "Fabled Equatorial African Icecaps To Disappear." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 May 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060515143818.htm>.
American Geophysical Union. (2006, May 15). Fabled Equatorial African Icecaps To Disappear. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060515143818.htm
American Geophysical Union. "Fabled Equatorial African Icecaps To Disappear." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/05/060515143818.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Airlines on Iceland Volcano Alert

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Iceland evacuates an area north of the country's Bardarbunga volcano, as the country's civil protection agency says it cannot rule out an eruption. Authorities have already warned airlines. As Joel Flynn reports, ash from the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in 2010 shut down much of Europe's airspace for six days. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

Endangered Red Wolves Face Uncertain Future

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) A federal judge temporarily banned coyote hunting to save endangered red wolves, but local hunters say that the wolf preservation program does more harm than good. Meanwhile federal officials are reviewing its wolf program in North Carolina. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

Coal Gas Boom in China Holds Climate Risks

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) China's energy revolution could do more harm than good for the environment, despite the country's commitment to reducing pollution and curbing its carbon emissions. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer

AP (Aug. 22, 2014) Aluminum giant, Novelis, has partnered with Red Hare Brewing Company to introduce the first certified high-content recycled beverage can. (Aug. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins