Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Land-cover changes do not impact glacier loss

06.02.2012
The composition of land surface – such as vegetation type and land use – regulates the interaction of radiation, sensible heat and humidity between the land surface and the atmosphere and, thus, influences ground level climate directly.

For the first time, the Innsbruck climate scientists quantitatively examined whether land-cover changes (LCC) may potentially affect glacier loss. "We used Kilimanjaro in East Africa as a test case, where a significant decrease of forests at elevations between 1,800 and 3,000 meters, caused by illegal deforestation and an increased number of forest fires, has been documented since the 1970s," explains climate researcher Thomas Mölg, who has worked in Berlin since 1 October 2011 but finished the study with his team at the University of Innsbruck.

The glaciers in the Kilimanjaro area have been shrinking for many decades, and climate researchers from Innsbruck and America have conducted thorough glaciological and meteorological measurements for ten years –ideal prerequisites for carrying out a comprehensive study about a potential connection between forest loss and glacier shrinking.

Novel methodology

The prerequisite for conducting this study was a novel methodology that links a glacier and atmospheric model in such a way that no statistical corrections are necessary (published by Kaser/Mölg, 2011 in Journal of Geophysical Research). Direct measurements of various climate elements on Kilimanjaro such as temperature, humidity, radiation, precipitation and glacier mass changes showed that reality can be simulated well by this new methodology. "Based on this evaluation we then modified vegetation cover in the atmospheric model – first showing 1976 and subsequently the current state – and calculated its effect on glacier mass," says Thomas Mölg.

The results show that LCC mainly alter precipitation over glaciers but with different effects on the Northern and Southern ice fields of the mountain (increase or decrease respectively), which results in local increase or decrease of glacier mass. "Depending on the season, LCC contributes not more than seven to 17 % to glacier mass loss in the southern sector. We, therefore, cannot confirm the hypothesis that deforestation at Kilimanjaro contributes significantly to glacier loss," explains Thomas Mölg.

Less precipitation in mid-mountain elevation zones

The results of the study suggest that relatively small-scale land-cover changes, such as on Kilimanjaro, may not have enough impact on the mountain climate to surpass the effects of global climate change on glaciers. "However, another important aspect of the results is that deforestation decreases precipitation significantly more in mid-mountain elevation zones about two kilometers below the glacier than in summit zones". This affects local water reservoirs and reduces water supply for the local population.

Publication:

Mölg/Großhauser/Hemp/Hofer/Marzeion: Limited forcing of glacier loss through land-cover change on Kilimanjaro, Nature Climate Change, published online 5 February 2012

Thomas Mölg | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uibk.ac.at

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle
17.01.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Modeling magma to find copper
13.01.2017 | Université de Genève

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Explaining how 2-D materials break at the atomic level

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Data analysis optimizes cyber-physical systems in telecommunications and building automation

18.01.2017 | Information Technology

Reducing household waste with less energy

18.01.2017 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>