Melting glaciers: Everest base camp sinks 40m and Kilimanjaro ‘is not a poster child for global warming’

Posted by Laura Grant on July 10, 2007
Posted in Green News

Peter Hillary and Jamling Tenzing, the sons of the first men to climb Everest – Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay – have said that the glaciers on the world’s highest mountain are melting to such an extent that the base camp where their fathers began their ascent is now 40m lower than it was in 1953.

Britain’s Independent newspaper reports that, Peter Hillary, who has summited Everest twice, said: “Climate change is happening. This is a fact. Base camp used to sit at 5,320m. This year it was at 5,280m because the ice is melting from the top and side. Base camp is sinking each year. For Sherpas living on Mount Everest this is something they can see every day but they can’t do anything about it on their own.”

The glacier on which Sir Edmund and Norgay pitched their base camp has retreated nearly 5km in the past 20 years, the Independent reports.

It quotes Tenzing as saying: “The glaciers have receded a great deal since my father’s time. There are many things he wouldn’t recognise today.’

Read the full story on The Independent’s website.

Meanwhile, the glacier on Kilimanjaro is also melting rapidly, but it’s not because of global warming, and using Africa’s highest mountain as a poster child for climate change is “simply inaccurate”, say scientists whose research has been published in American Scientist.

“There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of mid-latitude glaciers you could show where there is absolutely no question that they are declining in response to the warming atmosphere,” said climatologist Philip Mote, a University of Washington research scientist.

But on Kilimanjaro, which is situated in the tropics, different processes are at work, the researchers say.

Mote and Georg Kaser, a glaciologist at the University of Innsbruck in Austria, write that Kilimanjaro’s ice has been shrinking for more than a century and that most of the decline occurred before 1953, while evidence of atmospheric warming there before 1970 is inconclusive.

The researchers attribute the ice loss to “complex interacting factors”. It is “most likely associated with processes dominated by sublimation and with an energy balance dominated by solar radiation, rather than by a warmer troposphere,” said Mote.

For the full story go to the Nasa Earth Observatory website

There are also interesting satellite photographs of Kilimanjaro’s ice cap taken in 1993 and 2000 on the Nasa site: click here

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