Mount ‘Kili’ booked as global observatory

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MOUNT Kilimanjaro is set to make yet another world record, following a proposal by the Global Cryosphere Watch (GCW) that it is considered as a cryonet observation station.

Scientists from GCW which operates under the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) who had a three-day extensive discussion here, came out with the recom mendations that could make Kilimanjaro the first mountainous area in Africa to have such a station.

In an exclusive interview with The ‘Daily News, a member of the panel of experts on Polar and High Mountain Observations, Research and Services, Dr Ladislaus Chang’a said the meeting ‘was very positive’ in promoting Mount Kilimanjaro and Tanzania, with scientists particularly singling out Mount Kilimanjaro as an important landmark in learning about glaciers in relation to the environment generally.

With the station on Kilimanjaro, Dr Chang’a said Tanzania would benefit from the resources would go into scientific research, data collection and knowledge that would establish the reason behind depletion of glaciers atop the Tanzanian mountain -- and how changes in weather could affect the mountain and surrounding areas.

Mount Kenya and Mount Ruwenzori have also been proposed to have such stations. “The meeting was very successful … the experts discussed extensively matters relating to Mount Kilimanjaro such as presence of the glacier, its depletion from time to time.

Now having the station at Mount Kilimanjaro, we will be able at the end of the day to establish why glacier is lessening, how climatic conditions affect it. The recommendations will be forwarded to higher organs to be worked on. This is a great achievement for Tanzania as we have promoted the country as well,” said Dr Chang’a.

With Kilimanjaro as part of Cryonet, GCW would drive performance and provide motivation for high quality observations. Mount Kilimanjaro will be part of an international operational observing system, providing quality observations for research and knowledge beyond a site’s local region, bringing better visibility and a recognition of the importance of the observations made at the site.

That in turn could bring better support, either funding or logistical support. GCW promotes the exchange of knowledge and data, so Cryonet sites might see broader use of their data and products.

Speaking before the start of the workshop last week, Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) Director General, Dr Agnes Kijazi, said she expected members to come up with recommendations for a strategy to enhance observation and monitoring of weather and climate around high mountain areas including Mount Kilimanjaro.

She was looking also for formulation and implementation of research agenda that would contribute towards improving the understanding of the impacts of climate change on Tropical cryosphere and its associated ecosystems. Dr Kijazi who is also the Permanent Representative of Tanzania with the WMO noted that it was difficult to convince GCW for some tropical countries, Tanzania being one, to be joined in the program.

The DG said that due to lack of information and data emanating from inadequate observation, there is very limited understanding about the potential impacts of climate change on High Mountains and its associated ecosystems, including water resources and diversity of flora and fauna.

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