The glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa, are projected to be wiped out by 2040, said a global weather body, underlining how climate change is driving extreme events worldwide. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said this decade had been the warmest on record for land and ocean. It added that glacier and ice sheet loss and the rise in sea level were unprecedented during this period. “Persistently high concentrations of greenhouse gases have fuelled record land and ocean temperatures and turbo-charged a dramatic acceleration in ice melt and sea level upward thrust,” the WMO cited in its new report.
The three remaining glacier regions on the peak of the famous dormant volcano, found in Tanzania and bordering Kenya and Uganda, as well as the Rwenzori Mountains in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are disappearing at an unprecedented rate. As a result, the glaciers are expected to be completely wiped out within the next 20 years, reports Marc Santora for the New York Times. The disappearance of the glaciers will have significant economic, social, and environmental impacts on the mountain’s surrounding countries. It will affect tourism and the local people who depend on the water from these glaciers for their daily needs.
In the past, the glaciers have provided water for local communities and supported the livelihoods of many farmers and herders. In addition, the glaciers are essential for preserving biodiversity, including some endangered species such as black rhinos. But the current rate of retreat has caused a lot of concern among scientists.
According to the report, the melting rate has been accelerated by warming up the Earth’s surface and its oceans due to the increased levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is causing more frequent and intense extreme weather events worldwide. Increasingly hot and dry heatwaves, devastating wildfires, heavy rains, and flooding have affected millions of people and cost billions of dollars this year.
The study also points out that the human-caused rise in greenhouse gases is impacting Antarctica and the Arctic, where glaciers are retreating even faster. As a result, the Antarctic ice sheet has lost an estimated 2.8 trillion tons of ice since 1992, and the Greenland ice sheet has shed over seven times as much ice since its peak in 2000.
The study says that the polar ice caps continue to shrink and contribute to rising sea levels that threaten hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The United Nations COP27 climate conference is taking place in Dubai this week, which the report’s authors hope will help find solutions to the problem. The AP’s Mauricio Moreno contributed to this report. Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receive support from several private foundations. The American public funds AP’s general news fund. Could you read our disclosure policy?