Equatorial ice caps keep shrinking

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KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – The glaciers on the equatorial mountains of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt.

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KAMPALA, Uganda (eTN) – The glaciers on the equatorial mountains of Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Kenya and the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda continue to recede, posing the question for how long these ice caps, immortalized by promotional pictures used to attract tourists to the East African countries and used as backdrop for classic Hollywood movies, will still be around.

The implications, however, of this fall out of global warming will be catastrophic for the communities living near these mountains as water sources are also then thought to shrink, bringing likely disaster for agriculture, livestock, domestic households and industrial facilities nearby.

Much of Mombasa’s water supply presently comes from sources directly linked to the melt water runoff from Kilimanjaro (Mzima Springs inside Tsavo West National Park) and even the Machakos area in Kenya depends on water pumped from springs on the Kenyan side of the mountain, while the communities in Tanzania around Moshi and Arusha too would be affected, should streams and rivers begin to dry up.

Flower farms in the area, located conveniently near the international airport, would find it difficult to get enough water for irrigation, a situation mirrored already in the Kenyan rift valley near Naivasha, where lakes too are shrinking, albeit caused by other, yet still related causes of global warming and unsustainable human intervention in the fragile ecosystems.

In Uganda and Congo, which shares the Western side of the Rwenzori mountain range with Uganda, the fall out is feared to be equally severe, should the already much shrunk glaciers recede much further, as the run off waters again feed streams, rivers and lakes nearby and water flow, during the dry season, is already visible reduced compared to a generation ago.

A related survey in the United States, recently published by the US Geological Survey, reveals stark facts of the shrinkage of their benchmark glaciers in Washington State and Alaska, losing as much as 50 percent of their mass recorded half a century ago and with the trend accelerating. Watch this space and watch your environment – even small measures, taken by many, can make a difference.

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Editor in chief is Linda Hohnholz.