Kibo Summit on Kilimanjaro

September 15, 2004


Provided by: Earth Observatory, NASA GSFC
Summary authors & editors: Earth Observatory; Jim Foster

The Space Station images above illustrate the change over time in snow cover at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro as well as the current extent of the glaciers themselves. The top image is a high oblique photograph taken from the International Space Station in early April 2003. Note the positions of the glaciers on the upper northwestern and southern flanks of the mountain. The bottom photograph, taken from the International Space Station in late June 2004, shows large glacier fields (bluish-white) on the northwestern and southern slopes of the peak. A light layer of snow brightens the dark brown terrain surrounding the glaciers on this scene.

Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa -- located in Tanzania near the border with Kenya. Kibo Summit (5,893 m) at the top of Kilimanjaro is one of the few peaks in Africa to retain glaciers. Lake evaporation in this part of Africa has indicated a decrease in both precipitation and cloudiness around Kilimanjaro in the past 100 years or so, perhaps giving clues to the demise of the once proud glaciers that crowned this impressive peak. Many climatologists and glaciologists believe the remnant glaciers of Mt. Kilimanjaro will be gone by the year 2020, but there's no consensus yet as to why they're now receding. See also the Earth Science Picture of the Day for January 7, 2003.

Astronaut photograph ISS009-E-13366 was taken June 28, 2004 and Oblique astronaut photograph ISS006-E-45499 was taken April 9, 2003. Both were taken with a Kodak DCS760 digital camera equipped with an 800-mm lens. These images are provided by the Earth Observations Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas.

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