Furtwängler Glacier

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Furtwängler Glacier
Glacier at summit of Mt Kilimanjaro 001.JPG
Furtwängler Glacier (foreground) as it appeared in August 2003. Behind the glacier are snowfields and the Northern Icefield
Type Mountain glacier
Location Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Coordinates 3°4′15″S 37°21′07″E / 3.07083°S 37.35194°E / -3.07083; 37.35194
Area 60,000 square metres (15 acres) (in 2000)
Thickness 6 metres (20 ft) (in 2006)
Terminus Moraine/talus
Status Retreating

Furtwängler Glacier is located near the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. The glacier is named after Walter Furtwängler who, along with Siegfried König, was the fourth to ascend to the summit of Kilimanjaro in 1912.[1]

The glacier is a small remnant of an ice cap that once crowned the summit of Kilimanjaro. Almost 85 percent of the ice cover disappeared from October 1912 to June 2011.[2] At the current rate, most of the ice will disappear by 2040 and "it is highly unlikely that any ice body will remain after 2060".[2]

NASA image from 2004 with locations of major glaciers on Mount Kilimanjaro. Areas not identified are generally small remnant glaciers or snowfields. Click on image for detail.

Furtwängler Glacier is ephemeral, existing continuously since only about 1650 CE, which corresponds with very high levels in Kenya's Lake Naivasha and the beginning of the Maunder Minimum.[3] Between measurements in 1976 and 2000, the area of this glacier was cut almost in half, from 113,000 square metres (1,220,000 sq ft) to 60,000 square metres (650,000 sq ft).[4] Based on the rate of thinning observed between 2000 and 2009, this glacier is expected to disappear by 2018.[3]

During fieldwork conducted early in 2006, scientists discovered a large hole near the center of the glacier. This hole, extending through the 6 meters (20 feet) remaining thickness of the glacier to the underlying rock, was expected to grow and split the glacier in two by 2007.[4]

The demise of the Furtwängler Glacier and the other remaining Kilimanjaro glaciers, may reduce tourism because the novelty of glacier ice in proximity to the equator is one of the attractions of the area.

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