Kilimanjaro's Glaciers
Almost All Melted


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Kilimanjaro's already skimpy glaciers are melting so quickly that they will be gone by 2020, U.S. researchers reported on Thursday.
The researchers, who are racing to glean information from the unique glaciers on Africa's highest peak before they are completely gone, also said they had found evidence of three catastrophic droughts 8,300, 5,200 and 4,000 years ago.
They also determined that the glaciers began to form on top of the mountain, which rises from the savannas of Tanzania, 11,700 years ago.
"We found that the summit of the ice fields has lowered by at least 17 meters (nearly 56 feet) since 1962," Ohio State University professor Lonnie Thompson, who led the study, said in a statement.
"That's an average loss of about a half-meter (a foot and a half) in height each year."
Writing in the journal Science, the researchers said the glaciers measured 4.8 square miles in 1912 but had shrunk to 1 square mile by 2000.
Douglas Hardy of the University of Massachusetts said other glaciers around the world are melting due to global warming but that may not be the case with Kilimanjaro.
"It's difficult to ascribe the decrease solely to humans," Hardy, who also worked on the study, said in a statement.
"Further research is needed to determine to what extent global warming and/or natural climate variability are responsible for the demise of Kilimanjaro's glaciers."
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