Is global warming melting the ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro?
Melting ice on Mt. Kilimanjaro is mirrored on other tropical summits around the world affected by global warming.
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So if the impact on the summit remains unclear, that same can't be said for the base. If Kilimanjaro becomes iconic, perhaps it deserves that status as much for the impact of human land-use changes on local and regional climate, as for the broader trend of long-term global warming.Skip to next paragraph
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Indeed, an increasing number of studies are suggesting that the intensity of long-term effects from global warming locally can be affected by land-use practices in the area.
Among these studies:
-- Early last month, a team led by Richard Seager at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., showed how drought in the US Southeast from 2005 through 2007 was run-of-the-mill by historical climate measures. Yet its effects were severe, prompting widespread water restrictions and courtroom water wars between states dipping their conduits into the same river system. The reason for so much hardship? Development and population growth in the region, which caused demand for water to explode. Even though climate models project an increase in precipitation in the region, that isn't going to bail the region out of its water problems, the team writes. Models project a slight increase in evaporation over precipitation during the course of this century. You can download a pdf of the study here.
-- The strains of crops grown, as well as approaches used to grow them that put little premium on soil conservation, likely turned a moderate drought centered in the US Southwest into a disaster embracing the Great Plains, according to a recent study by a team led by Benjamin Cook, with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y. You can download a pdf copy here.
-- Data and modeling studies of the effects of farm irrigation in Nebraska and California's Great Central Valley suggest that widespread irrigation reduced the hottest summer temperatures in the irrigated regions by an average of nearly 7 degrees C (nearly 13 degrees F.); irrigation shaved an average of 2.7 degrees C off the heat index as well. A team led by Stanford University's David Lobell published the results in the journal Geophysical Research Letters last year. You can find a summary here.
Expect to see more of these kinds of studies as adaptation to global warming looms larger on the horizon.
Editor’s note: For more articles about the environment, see the Monitor’s main environment page, which offers information on many environment topics. Also, check out our Bright Green blog archive and our RSS feed.