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.
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.
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!
The Wadden Sea and the Elbe Studied with Zeppelin, Drones and Research Ships
19.09.2017 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht - Zentrum für Material- und Küstenforschung
FotoQuest GO: Citizen science campaign targets land-use change in Austria
19.09.2017 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...
Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!
When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...
For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.
Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.
MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...
Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...
19.09.2017 | Event News
12.09.2017 | Event News
06.09.2017 | Event News
20.09.2017 | Life Sciences
20.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy