Snow Top With Clouds On Top ~ Kilimanjaro Then And Now

002 (2)

We are told so many things these days. One of them was that the snow on Kilimanjaro would soon be a thing of the past. This photo was taken in Kenya before the prophecy in the late 1990s. We were driving down the old Mombasa highway just south of Kiboko when the mountain put in one of its astonishing appearances, and on a monumental tromp l’oeil scale. It is actually miles away over the Tanzanian border yet it looks as if you could just pop across to it.

Since Al Gore’s 2006  prognostication, travellers have apparently been beating a path to the summit while the snow was still there. Anyway, people will be pleased to know that there have been recent good snowfalls on the mountain. There’s a very nice researchers’ blog Kilimanjaro Climate and Glaciers blog with posts covering the October 2019 (when snowfalls resumed) and February 2020 when there was further snow. The research indicates some shrinkage of the north and south ice fields in their thinnest portions at lower elevations, but a metre of snow was recorded on the summit on 3 February. The satellites are also keeping their eye on things up there. This next image shows the entire caldera covered in snow.


There could be an important lesson here. The absence or presence of snow on Kilimanjaro has long given rise to controversy. In the 1840s when the first missionaries, Johann Ludwig Krapf and Johannes Rebmann reported back to Europe of sightings of snow on both Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, they were ridiculed by the experts: how could there possibly be such frigid matter in the equatorial regions. But there was and there is. Which all goes to show. We must choose our ‘experts’ wisely. Only ones with direct evidence and  well informed experience of REALITY need apply.


30 thoughts on “Snow Top With Clouds On Top ~ Kilimanjaro Then And Now

    1. The researchers on Kilimanjaro say the snow there in October arrived with the rains lower down in the rest of the region, which is not what one would probably expect. Complicated stuff – weather!

  1. “the mountain put in one of its astonishing appearances, and on a monumental tromp l’oeil scale.”
    Excellent lines and another more delightful prose from you Tish, blending memories with facts and fictions. Yes we must choose our yardsticks and rules of thumb more carefully as many fall off bandwagons!

  2. An excellent start to the toppings. And I suppose natural for those who had not visited the area to assume that it would be far too hot for snow. They had obviously never climbed a mountain and noticed how much colder it is the higher you get! “I’ll believe it when I see it”

    1. It was an interesting denial coming from those who were the august geographers of the day. But to be fair, this was before the great era of the explorers. Europeans knew little about the hinterland of the African continent before the writings of Livingstone, Burton, Speke and Stanley.

  3. Wise words and a beautiful image. One of the few hearts I g things about our current state of madness is that the NZ media seem to have chosen their experts very wisely. Possibly for the first time ever!

  4. One of the things I’ve learned is that climate change isn’t going to be the same everywhere at the same time. It will be worse in some places than others. We can already see that it is worse in big cities. Why is it worse in Switzerland than in Montana? Why is the southern US not as bad as the northeast? And Kilimanjaro still has snow.

    1. I’m thinking that we do need to get a grip on the fact that the climate has always changed, that it is not uniform across the globe because it can’t be, and never has been; that weather systems are chaotic, but within this there do ‘appear’ to be, where we have systematically gathered, actually observed, testable data, cycles that seem to repeat over decades/centuries/millennia. We can also be fairly certain that there are activities by humans that can cause massive ecosystem degradation, soil erosion being a pretty pressing one since we obviously need it to grow our food. And there are also many things we can do to restore damaged ecosystems. In the news this morning was the report of scientists discovering ancient soils in Antarctica that suggest there was once tropical rainforest there and much higher levels of CO2 than today. So things change. The problem is timescales and circumstances of planetary change, and the humungous amount of things we don’t actually know about them, often don’t fit with humans’ ‘received’ perceptions of how things ‘ought’ to be.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.