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 Predicting unpredictability: Information theory offers new way to read ice cores
07.12.2016 | Santa Fe Institute

nachricht Sea ice hit record lows in November
07.12.2016 | University of Colorado at Boulder

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

NTU scientists build new ultrasound device using 3-D printing technology

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

The balancing act: An enzyme that links endocytosis to membrane recycling

07.12.2016 | Life Sciences

How to turn white fat brown

07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>