Monday, June 15, 2009

Lifestyle melts away with Uganda peak snow cap

Ben Simon in Agence France-Presse: In 1906, Mount Speke, one the highest peaks of Uganda's Rwenzori Mountains was covered with 217 hectares (536 acres) of ice, according to the Climate Change Unit at Uganda?s ministry of water and environment. In 2006, only 18.5 hectares remained. Satellite images taken in 1987 and again in 2005 show that much of the thaw has occurred over the past two decades.

…."The ice is literally disappearing. In some cases it has disappeared, and I am more than certain that this is a result of global warming," said Philip Gagwe, who heads the Climate Change Unit. "Man-made global warming is here. We are smelling it and we are touching it."

Uganda's National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA) believes that if melting continues at the current rate the ice will be gone by 2023. For the people of Bundibugyo who rely on agriculture to survive, temperature increases have changed their lives dramatically.

…Goretti Kitutu, a climate change specialist at NEMA, said people might soon be competing for water as well. The snow cap provides a steady trickle of water to the neighbouring communities and feeds the Nile river basin, which includes Lake George and Lake Albert. "Once this ice disappears we shall have serious problems in the hydrology of the area. We will see reduced water in the lakes and that will impact the Nile basin," Kitutu explained….

Lower slopes of the Rwenzori Mountain Range viewed from the crater lakes near Nyakasura Caves (Fort Portal). Shot by sarahemcc, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

No comments: