Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I Bless The Rains Down In Africa

As people around the world prepare to party with Al Gore on July 7th to raise awareness of global warming as part of "The Live Earth" concert series, pesky little things called facts keep emerging that could be a major buzz kill for party goers. How inconvenient.

ScienceDaily: The Woes Of Kilimanjaro: Don't Blame Global Warming:

The "snows" of Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro inspired the title of an iconic American short story, but now its dwindling icecap is being cited as proof for human-induced global warming.

However, two researchers writing in the July-August edition of American Scientist magazine say global warming has nothing to do with the decline of Kilimanjaro's ice, and using the mountain in northern Tanzania as a "poster child" for climate change is simply inaccurate.

"There are dozens, if not hundreds, of photos of midlatitude 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 in the tropics -- particularly on Kilimanjaro -- processes are at work that are far different from those that have diminished glacial ice in temperate regions closer to the poles, he said.

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

They attribute the ice decline primarily to complex interacting factors, including the vertical shape of the ice's edge, which allows it to shrink but not expand. They also cite decreased snowfall, which reduces ice buildup and determines how much energy the ice absorbs -- because the whiteness of new snow reflects more sunlight, the lack of new snow allows the ice to absorb more of the sun's energy.

But it's science! You can't argue with science! Unless, you know, it really isn't science at all.

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