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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Kili from Space

Kili from Space

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, March 7, 2017/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, photography, space science, sustainability, environment, climate change

                  Mount Kilimanjaro, January 20, 2017 (credit: Advanced Land Imager, Landsat)

Mount Kilimanjaro (Kili for short) is the highest peak in Africa (19,340 feet) and one of the famous Seven Summits in mountaineering lore. Its impressive ice cap declined considerably during the 20th Century from a combination of climate change and deforestation of the mountain's forests. Dense montane forests once covered the volcanic slopes and were an important part of the mountain's hydrology by providing moisture for clouds.

To reach Kilimanjaro's summit, trekkers and climbers pass through diverse vegetation zones including dry savanna; rainforest; montane cloud forests; the hardy Afro-alpine (Afro-montane) scrublands and bogs; and then onto a summit of rock and ice. The vegetation zones are clearly visible in a new natural-color image acquired by one of NASA's Landsat satellites. The photograph shows the stricking line of deforestation boundary on the mountain's slopes as forests have been replaced by farms leading to Tanzania's national park.

Environmental monitors like Landsat have been providing a continuous record of changes in Earth’s landscape since 1972 to the present. Kilimanjaro's ice fields will become historical memories in books and satellite photographs in this century.

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