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Greenhouse Effect

Greenhouse gases trap heat and cause the atmosphere to warm; human actions increase greenhouse gas content in the atmosphere.

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No Snows of Kilimanjaro

No Snows of Kilimanjaro

Credit: Anna Langova
Source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=9114
License: CC BY-NC 3.0

Ernest Hemingway described the mountain this way in his 1938 story, The Snows of Kilimanjaro:

…great, high, and unbelievably white in the sun, was the square top of Kilimanjaro.

How does that quote conflict with the photo above?

Why It Matters

  • Mount Kilimanjaro was capped with glaciers; that’s why it was white. Snowfall has declined in recent decades and the ice has shrunk. As soon as 2020, the mountain may be ice free. Many other mountains are also losing their glaciers. Dr. Lonnie Thompson, of Ohio State University, is trying to collect ice core samples from these glaciers before they are gone. The cores contain a history of the environment at the time the ice was deposited.
  • Credit: NASA
    Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glacial_lakes,_Bhutan.jpg
    License: CC BY-NC 3.0

    Glacial lakes forming in the region of Bhutan-Himalaya [Figure2]


  • Loss of glacial ice may also lead to summertime thirst. Communities that live around these mountains – in the Andes of South America, the Himalaya of Asia, and many others – depend on the water glacial meltwater to get through the dry season. This water may be difficult or impossible to replace.

Explore More

With the link below, learn more about melting mountain glaciers. Then answer the following questions.

  1. What can scientists learn from ice cores? Why is this important?
  2. As mountain glaciers melt away, how does that impact the communities that live near the mountain?
  3. When ice melts the ground surface absorbs more energy, which causes more ice to melt. Explain why this happens.
  4. What is one possible reason that less snow is falling over Mount Kilimanjaro?
  5. What is the story told by melting glaciers around the world?

Image Attributions

  1. [1]^ Credit: Anna Langova; Source: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=9114; License: CC BY-NC 3.0
  2. [2]^ Credit: NASA; Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Glacial_lakes,_Bhutan.jpg; License: CC BY-NC 3.0


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