Mount Kilimanjaro is a snow-capped peak rising above the savanna of eastern Africa, just 200 miles south of the equator. With a summit of 19,341 feet, this is Africa's tallest mountain.It is also the world's largest free-standing mountain.
Geography and History
Mount Kilimanjaro was formed about 3 million years ago during the formation if the Great Rift Valley. Then nearly a million years ago volcanic activities centered on a few specific points. Kilimanjaro is not one single mountain peak but rather three volcanoes lying practically on top of one another. The lowest summit, Shira, at 12,995 feet last erupted half a million years ago and is now considered extinct. The other two peaks are dormant and have not erupted for centuries. Mawenzi, at 16,896 feet is linked to the highest summit, Kibo, by a broad ridge which gives the summit of Kilimanjaro a “saddle” shape. Researchers believe Kilimanjaro’s glaciers formed about 11,000 years ago, when the region was undergoing a period of wet weather that allowed snow to accumulate.
The coordinate for this Earthcache put you at the Arrow Glacier Camp at roughly 15,970 feet. This is the edge of the Glacier.
What Is A Glacier?
Glaciers are made up of fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. Glaciers form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice. It must have a huge basin to collect snow at the top which must stay at freezing temperatures for many years. What makes glaciers unique is their ability to move usually 100,000 times slower than a river. Some glaciers are as small as football fields, while others grow to be over a hundred kilometers long.
It is widely known that the Glaciers of Kilimanjaro are disappearing. This can be seen in several photographs taken over a period of time. The volcano Kibo is the highest point on Kilimanjaro, about 19,340 feet above sea level. A rough survey in 1889 suggested that Kibo's icecap occupied about 12.5 square miles. By 1912, more than two decades before Ernest Hemingway wrote his masterpiece short story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro," it had dwindled to about 7.5 square miles. By 1953 it had shrunk to about 4.3 square miles and by 2003 it was at a little more than 1.5 square miles.
A photograph by Edward Oehler taken in 1912 (top) shows the extent of the icecap atop Mount Kilimanjaro, and a similar photo taken in 2006 by Georg Kaser illustrates the icecap's decline. (Credit: Edward Oehler / Georg Kaser)
Even before the first Europeans reached the summit in 1889, the weather has been dry in Eastern Africa. Since air near the mountain's ice almost always is well below freezing, there typically is no melting. Instead ice loss is mainly through a process called sublimation, which requires more than eight times as much energy as melting. Sublimation, caused by exposure to sunlight and dry air, occurs when ice essentially skips the melting step and evaporates. This can be likened to moisture-sapping conditions that cause food to suffer freezer burn.
1. Estimate the direction in which this glacier is moving (approximate) based on physical features you observe.
You may log this cache and email the answers and coordinates at the same time. Logs containing any answers to questions will be deleted. You are not required to put yourself in harm’s way to answer these questions.
2. Estimate the height of the Glacier from GZ based on nearby features and approximations.
3. Look for evidence of the disappearing glaciers (dislodged rocks, rounded edges, water pools, etc). Include a photo in your log showing the evidence with the coordinates (optional)
4. Take a photo of the members in your party with the Glaciers in the background and include your coordinates in your log. (optional)
Send me an e-mail with #1 and #2.