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Climate change and its impact on the forests of Kilimanjaro

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Cloud forests are of great importance in the hydrological functioning of watersheds in subhumid East Africa. However, the montane forests of Mt. Kilimanjaro are heavily threatened by global change impacts. Based on an evaluation of over 1500 vegetation plots and interpretation of satellite imagery from 1976 and 2000, land-cover changes on Kilimanjaro were evaluated and their impact on the water balance estimated. While the vanishing glaciers of Kilimanjaro attract broad interest, the associated increase of frequency and intensity of fires on the slopes of Kilimanjaro is less conspicuous but ecologically far more significant. These climate change-induced fires have lead to changes in species composition and structure of the forests and to a downward shift of the upper forest line by several hundred metres. During the last 70 years, Kilimanjaro has lost nearly one-third of its forest cover, in the upper areas caused by fire, on the lower forest border mainly caused by clearing. The loss of 150 km2 of cloud forest – the most effective source in the upper montane and subalpine fog interception zone – caused by fire during the last three decades means a considerable reduction in water yield. In contrast to common belief, global warming does not necessarily cause upward migration of plants and animals. On Kilimanjaro the opposite trend is under way, with consequences more harmful than those due to the loss of the showy ice cap of Africa’s highest mountain.
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Climate change and its impact on the forests
of Kilimanjaro
Andreas Hemp*
Ecological Botanical Gardens, University of Bayreuth, Universita¨tsstr. 30, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
Abstract
Cloud forests are of great importance in the hydrological
functioning of watersheds in subhumid East Africa. How-
ever, the montane forests of Mt. Kilimanjaro are heavily
threatened by global change impacts. Based on an evalu-
ation of over 1500 vegetation plots and interpretation of
satellite imagery from 1976 and 2000, land-cover changes
on Kilimanjaro were evaluated and their impact on the
water balance estimated. While the vanishing glaciers of
Kilimanjaro attract broad interest, the associated increase
of frequency and intensity of fires on the slopes of Kili-
manjaro is less conspicuous but ecologically far more sig-
nificant. These climate change-induced fires have lead to
changes in species composition and structure of the forests
and to a downward shift of the upper forest line by several
hundred metres. During the last 70 years, Kilimanjaro has
lost nearly one-third of its forest cover, in the upper areas
caused by fire, on the lower forest border mainly caused by
clearing. The loss of 150 km
2
of cloud forest – the most
effective source in the upper montane and subalpine fog
interception zone – caused by fire during the last three
decades means a considerable reduction in water yield. In
contrast to common belief, global warming does not nec-
essarily cause upward migration of plants and animals. On
Kilimanjaro the opposite trend is under way, with conse-
quences more harmful than those due to the loss of the
showy ice cap of Africa’s highest mountain.
Key words: cloud forest, forest fires, global change
Introduction
The shrinking ice cap of Kilimanjaro is a well-known
phenomenon since over 100 years (Meyer, 1900; Jaeger,
1909; Klute, 1920; Thompson et al., 2002). The globally
synchronous fluctuations of mountain glaciers in modem
times lead to the assumption that their causes are also of a
global scale (Kaser, 1999), partly referred to a recent
warming of the tropical middle troposphere (Hastenrath &
Kruss, 1992; Diaz & Graham, 1996; Kaser, 1999; Gafffen
et al., 2000; Thompson, 2000; Irion, 2001) or to a pro-
nounced decrease of precipitation and air humidity (Kaser
et al., 2004). During the last 120 years, annual precipi-
tation on Mount Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) has decreased by
600–1200 mm (Hemp, 2005a) while since 1976 tem-
peratures have increased drastically (Altmann et al.,
2002). Both these climatic changes do not only cause the
glaciers on the mountain to retreat but also fires to become
more aggressive and devastating on the higher slopes of
the mountain, resulting in a potentially much greater
impact on the overall Kilimanjaro ecosystem than that of
the melting glaciers.
Although most of these fires are lit by the carelessness of
humans (e.g. honey collectors or poachers: Hemp & Beck,
2001), they would not be so devastating had the climate
not become drier. Whilst the lower and middle montane
forests on Kilimanjaro are heavily threatened by illegal
logging (Lambrechts et al., 2002), the drier upper montane
and subalpine zones in particular are strongly influenced
by fire. Fires change species composition and structure of
the forests (Hemp, 2005b) impacting the Kilimanjaro
ecosystem to a far greater extent than the melting of its
glaciers. The aim of this study is to give an overview about
these climate change impacts on the forests of Kilimanjaro
and to assess the fire-caused land cover changes with their
respective impact on the water balance of Kilimanjaro.
Study area, materials and methods
Study area
Mt. Kilimanjaro is located 300 km south of the equator in
Tanzania on the border with Kenya between 245¢and
*Correspondence: E-mail: andreas.hemp@uni-bayreuth.de
2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol.,47 (Suppl. 1), 3–10 3
325¢S and 370¢and 3743¢E. It represents an eroded relic
of an ancient volcano with three peaks (Shira, Mawenzi
and Kibo) rising from the savanna plains at 700-m eleva-
tion to a snow- and ice-clad summit of 5895-m altitude. Its
diameter from northwest to southeast is about 90 km.
Due to its equatorial location, two distinct rainy seasons
occur on Kilimanjaro: the long rains from March to May,
and the short rains around November. According to the
climate classification system of Ko¨ppen and Troll Pfaffen
(in Mu
¨ller, 1983), Mt. Kilimanjaro belongs to the zone of a
seasonal dry tropical climate. However, rainfall and tem-
perature vary with altitude and exposure to the dominant
wind from the Indian Ocean. The northern slopes, on the
lee side of the mountain, receive much less annual rainfall
than the southern slopes. Mean annual temperature
decreases linearly upslope with a lapse rate of 0.56C per
100 m (Hemp, 2006a) starting with 23.4C at the foothills
in Moshi (813 m; Walter, Harnickell & Mueller-Dombois,
1975), and decreasing to )7.1C at the top of Kibo
(Thompson et al., 2002). Annual precipitation reaches its
maximum in the mid-montane zone of the southern slope,
where c. 3000 mm was recorded at 2200 m. At higher
elevation, precipitation declines, reaching 80% of the
maximum at 2400 m, 70% at 2700 m, 50% near the
upper forest border at 3000 m and only 20% at 4000 m
(Hemp, 2001, 2006a).
Several bioclimatic belts can be distinguished along the
slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro (Fig. 1). A dry and hot colline
savanna zone surrounds the mountain base between 700
and 1000 m a.s.1. (mostly farmland; some intact savanna
vegetation left around Lake Chala and Ngare Nairobi).
The submontane and lower montane zone between
1000 and 1800 m has been converted to coffee–banana
plantations. Montane forests cover an area of about
1000 km
2
on Mt. Kilimanjaro. In the lower and middle
parts of the southern slope, these forests are characterized
by Ocotea usambarensis. The cloud forest zone is dominated
by Podocarpus latifolius,Hagenia abyssinica and Erica excelsa.
On the drier northern slope, the lower forest zone is
dominated by Croton-Calodendrum forests, mid-altitudes are
dominated by Cassipourea-forests, and Juniperus character-
izes the higher altitudes. Above c. 3100 m these forests
have been replaced by Erica bush in recent decades (Erica
arborea and Erica trimera,Protea caffra and Euryops dacry-
dioides).Around 3900m elevation the Erica bush grades
into Helichrysum cushion vegetation with Helichrysum
Fig 1 Land use and vegetation on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Dotted lines represent transects
4Andreas Hemp
2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol.,47 (Suppl. 1), 3–10
newii and Helichrysum citrispinum reaching c. 4500 m.
Higher altitudes are poorly vegetated. For a more detailed
description of these vegetation types, see Hemp (2001,
2006b,c) and Hemp & Hemp (2003).
Vegetation analysis
Between 1996 and 2005, over 1500 plots were examined
along 34 elevational transects using the method of Braun-
Blanquet (1964) (Fig. 1). Based on these plant species
inventories and a classification of a Landsat ETM image
from 2000 (idrisi 3.2 software, Clark Labs, Worcester, MK,
USA), a vegetation map was produced (Hemp, 2006c),
which was compared with a Landsat MSS image from 1976
to evaluate changes in vegetation cover between these two
years.
Climate analysis
Since 1997, rainfall and temperature were recorded across
five elevational gradients (for details see Hemp, 2006a).
Long-term rainfall trends were analysed using data of the
Fig 2 Annual precipitation at (a) Moshi
Meteorological Station, 830 m a.s.l., (b)
Kilema Mission, 1430 m a.s.l. and (c)
Kibosho Mission 1430 m a.s.l. on the
southern slope of Kilimanjaro. Data
source: Tanzania Meteorological Agency,
Kibosho and Kilema Mission
Climate change impacts on Kilimanjaro 5
2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol.,47 (Suppl. 1), 3–10
three oldest and permanent weather stations on the
mountain (provided by the Tanzania Meterological Agen-
cy) using linear regressions (Fig. 2).
Water balance
Based on the vegetation map, the altitudinal forest zona-
tion and rainfall data, the Kilimanjaro forest belt was
divided into ten eco-climatic zones. For each of these zones,
annual rain water input, evapotranspiration and fog water
input were estimated (for details see Hemp, 2005a).
Results
Evaluation of long-term rainfall data
Figure 2 shows the mean annual precipitation from three
different stations located on the southern slope of Kili-
manjaro. Using a linear regression, rainfall of the three
stations decreased by 34%, 27% and 39% (i.e. by 392, 532
and 986 mm per annum ) for the periods 1902–2004,
1911–2004 and 1922–2004 respectively.
Elevational gradient in plant species richness
As the altitudinal zonation on the wet southern and dry
northern slope differs significantly (cf. Hemp, 2006a), the
following explanations focus on the southern slope with its
larger altitudinal gradient. Numbers of 2000 vascular
plants species (including 143 pteridophytes) at 100-m
elevation intervals on the southern slope of Mt. Kilimanj-
aro are shown in Fig. 3.
Vascular plants reach a maximum of over 900 species at
1000 m in the mosaic-type interface between the colline
savanna and the banana–coffee plantations of the sub-
montane zone, supporting the well-known phenomenon
that plant species numbers are peaking in moderately
cultivated or disturbed areas and not in natural, com-
pletely untouched areas. Remarkably, there is a second
peak at 2600 m at the upper border of the montane zone.
It is this altitude where fires start to become important on
Mt. Kilimanjaro, creating a mosaic of different fire-induced
successional stages of forest, shrub and tussock grassland
stands. By numerical evaluation of the releve
´s, several
plant associations were revealed (Hemp, 2002, partly
published in Hemp, 2001, 2006c). The numbers of these
plant associations in different altitudes show a clear cor-
relation with the species numbers (Fig. 3), suggesting that
the number of habitats, the beta diversity (as indicated by
the number of plant communities) is a major controlling
factor of species richness on Mt. Kilimanjaro. This means
that high community (beta) diversity in the fire-influenced
areas of the upper montane zone (twelve communities)
leads to a higher species (alpha) diversity (311 species) as
compared to the closed undisturbed forest at lower alti-
tudes with 233 species in seven communities and the
monotonous Erica bush at higher altitudes with about 50
species in four to five communities.
In particular, the distribution of pteridophytes illustrates
these patterns very well. Because of their species richness
and continuous distribution, this vascular plant group is
an excellent tool for recognizing the altitudinal zonation of
tropical mountains (Hemp, 2001). In Zambia, geophytic
and deciduous fern species indicate dry conditions with
recurring fires (Kornas
´, 1978, 1985). Similar observations
were made on Kilimanjaro with such ferns occurring in
colline submontane and subalpine grasslands (Hemp,
2001). Geophytes and deciduous ferns are of lower
Fig 3 Altitudinal changes of species
numbers of pteridophytes and of all occur-
ring vascular plants on the southern slope
of Mt. Kilimanjaro in relation to number of
plant associations (habitats), based on the
evaluation of 1270 plots with about 2000
species. The second diversity peak is lo-
cated in the fire-influenced altitudes in the
upper montane and subalpine zone
6Andreas Hemp
2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol.,47 (Suppl. 1), 3–10
importance in the mid altitude forests than in the fire-
affected lower and higher forest areas. This is reflected by
the bimodal discontinuous distribution pattern of decidu-
ous, fire tolerating fern species such as the geophyte
Pteridium aquilinum and the hemicryptophyte Dryopteris
pentheri which have a distribution gap in the central forest
zone (Hemp, 2001, 2005b).
Influence of fire on low altitude forests
Burning in low altitude forests changes species composi-
tion and structure. About 10% of the tree species in the
drier submontane Croton-Calodendrum forests of the wes-
tern and northern slopes were found to be deciduous. This
habit is an adaptation to dry seasons, and also possibly to
recurring fires. In the same forest type, distinct fire-induced
Olea europaea ssp. cuspidata dominance stages are quite
common, covering 41 km
2
(Hemp, 2006c). Similar to
Olea, the fire-resistant trees Agarista salicifolia and Morella
salicifolia (both with a thick, corky bark) are distributed in
the fire-influenced forests of the lower montane zone and
the upper montane zone.
Impact of fire on the upper vegetation zones
Induced by the elevational drop of precipitation above the
major cloud zone, fire causes a natural sharp discontinuity
in composition and structure of the tall (20–30 m high)
subalpine Hagenia-Podocarpus forests at 2800–3000 m
a.s.l. The giant heather Erica excelsa becomes dominant at
this altitude forming dense monospecific stands of about
10 m height (Hemp & Beck, 2001). The occurrence of an
Erica forest is an obvious fire sign. During long periods of
dry climate with recurrent fires, the Erica forest boundary
moves downslope and advances upslope during wet peri-
ods. The presence of Erica enhances the fire risk, as even
fresh Erica wood burns well, which in turn prevents the
Podocarpus forest from re-establishing. At high fire fre-
quency, the closed Erica excelsa forest degrades into open
bushland of c. 1.5 m height dominated by Erica trimera
and Erica arborea between 3200 and 4000 m a.s.l. (the
potential treeline). Continuously, high frequency of fires
even destroys this bush, resulting in Helichrysum cushion
vegetation, which is the climatic climax vegetation at
altitudes above 4000 m.
The comparison of 1976 and 2000 Landsat images
reveals enormous changes in the upper vegetation zones of
Kilimanjaro during the last 24 years (Table 1). In 1976,
the Erica trimera bush – currently depressed below 3800 m
– reached 4100 m, in part forming a continuous belt in
areas which have become covered by Helichrysum cushion
vegetation since then. That Helichrysum shrub is too sparse
and low in biomass to fuel the spreading of fires and
increased its area more than three times between 1976
and 2000. In 1976, closed Erica forests covered nearly six
times the area of today (187 instead of 32 km
2
), extending
up to 3800 m in many places. This means nearly 15% of
Kilimanjaro’s forest cover was destroyed by fire since 1976
and was replaced by Erica bush which extended its total
area by 50 km
2
(mainly downslope).
Impacts of increasing fires and melting glaciers on the water
balance
The forests of Kilimanjaro above 1300 m a.s.l. m receive
nearly 1600 million m
3
water annually, 95% by rainfall
and c. 5% by fog interception (‘Rain’ and ‘Fog’, respectively
in Table 2). About 500 million m
3
of water (31%) perco-
lates into the groundwater or into streams.
If one assumes that fog precipitation is close to zero once
the forest is destroyed, the loss of 150 km
2
of upper
montane and subalpine forests since 1976 corresponds to
an estimated loss of 20 million m
3
of fog water deposition
per year. This is more than a quarter of the estimated
annual fog water yield of the whole forest belt or equiva-
lent to the annual water demand of the one million
Table 1 Landcover changes 1976–2000
Vegetation type 1976 (ha) 2000 (ha) Change (%)
Montane forest 106,624 97,410 )9
Subalpine Erica
cloud forest
18,657 3212 )83
Erica bush 20,166 25,675 27
Helichrysum cushion
vegetation
6928 21,755 214
Grassland 9039 4396 )51
Table 2 Hydrometrical data of the forest belt on Mt. Kilimanjaro
(million m
3
)
Water input Water output
Rain fog Evapotranspiration
Groundwater
and streams
1.509 73 1085 497
95% 5% 69% 31%
Climate change impacts on Kilimanjaro 7
2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol.,47 (Suppl. 1), 3–10
inhabitants on Kilimanjaro (according to numbers given
by United Republic of Tanzania and CES, 2002). In con-
trast, the average annual water output of the 2.6 km
2
of
glaciers can be estimated at only 1 million m
3
(5%) (Hemp,
2005a).
Discussion
Evidence for climate change linked with fire activity and glacier
retreat
Long-term rainfall data from three different stations
located on the southern slope of Kilimanjaro show a clear
decrease in annual precipitation during the last century
(Fig. 2).
Temperature data, since 1976, from Amboseli on the
northern foothills of Kilimanjaro reveal a drastic increase of
mean daily maximum temperature at a rate of over 2 K per
decade (Altmann et al., 2002). Increases were greatest
during the hottest months, February and March. According
to the climate trends in the Kilimanjaro area presented by
Hay et al. (2002) for 1941–1995, temperatures rose
between 1951 and 1960, and between 1981 and 1995, but
were stable or decreased slightly during the remaining
intervals.
Prior to 1900, only few sporadic rainfall data are
available from Kilimanjaro. Hence, the historical fluctua-
tions must be reconstructed using proxy indicators, such
as lake levels. Over the past millennium, equatorial east
Africa has alternated between contrasting climate condi-
tions, with significantly drier climate than today during
the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ (c. 1000–1270 ad) and a
relatively wet climate during the so-called ‘Little Ice Age’
(c. 1270–1850 ad; Verschuren, Laird & Cumming, 2000).
Enhanced solar radiation due to diminished cloud cover,
accompanied by reduced precipitation during the last two
decades of the 19th century caused a drop of lake levels
and glacier recession (Hastenrath, 1984, 2001; Nicholson,
2000;Verschuren et al., 2000; Nicholson & Yin, 2001).
The drastic drop of the water level of Lake Victoria be-
tween 1880 and 1900 had been attributed to the reduc-
tion in annual precipitation by about 150–200 mm
(Hastenrath, 1984).
During the last century, mean annual precipitation on
Kilimanjaro decreased by about 400–1000 mm (Fig. 2).
When compared with the situation before 1880, the drop
amounts to 600–1200 mm per annum. Consistent with
the pronounced decrease of precipitation at the end of the
19th century, fires in subalpine forests have been reported
already by the first Europeans on the mountain (e.g.
Meyer, 1890, 1900; Volkens, 1897; Jaeger, 1909) and in
parallel the glaciers started to recede (Kaser et al., 2004)
but then entered a few decades of more stable conditions
(Kaser, 1999). Since 1976, the warming effect became
more significant (Altmann et al., 2002) and also led to a
second phase of rapid melting and strongly enhanced fire
activity.
Impact of fire on the upper tree-line
Fire not only transforms land cover, but also maintains
certain land cover types (Eva & Lambin, 2000). On Kili-
manjaro, fire influences species diversity and vegetation
structure in the different altitudinal zones in various ways
(Hemp, 2001, 2002, 2005b; Hemp & Beck, 2001) where
in the upper forest and shrub zone fires play a destructive
role. From field observations and historical descriptions
(Jaeger, 1909; Klute, 1920), it can be assumed that dif-
ferent tall subalpine forest types extended up to over
4000 m in many areas of Kilimanjaro at the beginning of
the last century. This is corroborated by the existence of
forest relicts at 4000 m that represent the highest cloud
forests in Africa (Hemp, 2006a). The fires of the years
1996 and 1997 destroyed vast areas of old Erica forest,
which became replaced by low stature Erica bush and
moved the upper closed forest line downslope by about
800 m of altitude. Thus, fire effects overrun potential
positive effects of climatic changes in the upper forest belt.
Fire and movements of vegetation belts
Pollen diagrams of East African mountains show that the
treeline has never been stable. They indicate a dry climate
between 25000 and 12500 bp (Lind & Morrison, 1974)
with charcoal horizons in today’s lower montane forests
on Kilimanjaro, suggesting an extent of ericaceous forest
1000 m below its current lower limit (Hemp & Beck,
2001).
Alpine vegetation has been found to migrate upslope due
to rising temperatures and enrichment of atmospheric CO
2
and nitrogen in temperate zone mountains (in the case of
pioneer species) (Grabherr & Pauli, 1994), or remain more
or less stable (in the case of late successional communities)
(Ko¨rner, 2003). In contrast, alpine vegetation on Kili-
manjaro migrates downslope, replacing subalpine forests.
This is due to a typical feature of high mountains in Africa:
8Andreas Hemp
2009 The Author. Journal compilation 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Afr. J. Ecol.,47 (Suppl. 1), 3–10
the vast ericaceous belt. This plant formation is very
inflammable and becomes more susceptible to fire in a
warmer climate.
In addition to the losses of 150 km
2
of upper montane
and subalpine forests from fire since 1976, losses due to
clear cutting of lower elevation forests amount to 450 km
2
since 1929, bringing the total loss to c. 600 km
2
. Thus
Kilimanjaro has lost about one-third of its former forest
cover (Hemp, Lambrechts & Hemp, in press). This sum
does not account for the massive logging inside the still
existing forest belt as documented during an aerial survey
in 2001, when about 8000 newly cut trunks had been
counted (Lambrechts et al., 2002).
Impact on the water balance
Cloud forests are of great importance for watersheds in East
Africa (Po
´cs, 1976). In addition to the function of filtering
and storing water, the upper montane and subalpine cloud
forests have a high potential of collecting cloud water (cf. e.g.
Cavelier & Goldstein, 1989; Juvik & Nullet, 1993; Cavelier,
Solis & Jaramillo, 1996; Bruijnzeel, 2001). Fog interception
increases with altitude, and so does its contribution to water
yielding on Kilimanjaro (Hemp, 2005a). Thus, the loss of
cloud forests due to climate induced fires as well as the loss of
montane forest due to clearing, causes a considerable
reduction and enhanced variability of water yields of the
Kilimanjaro catchments. Deforestation on mountain foot-
hills raises mean cloud condensation level that results in a
gradual shrinking of the cloud zone. A similar effect is caused
by global warming and drying of the air (Bruijnzeel, 2001).
In addition to changes in the water balance of the mountain
loss of cloud cover may have added to the observed general
decreasing trend in precipitation during the last century.
These trends affect over one million people living on the
mountain, by far exceeding the hydrological consequences
of the loss of the glaciers.
Conclusions
Global warming combined with increasing levels of carbon
dioxide and nitrogen is expected to lead to an upslope shift of
the various vegetation zones. On Mt. Kilimanjaro, however,
climate change induced fires had an overriding impact
leading to a downslope shift of the (sub-)alpine vegetation
belts within few decades. During the last 80 years, Kili-
manjaro has lost nearly a third of its forest cover. Compared
with these landscape changes, the hydrological significance
of the melting of the glaciers is almost negligible. However,
the disappearance of the glaciers is an alarming indicator of
the substantial changes in the Kilimanjaro environment. At
current rates of incidence, fires will have extinct most of the
Kilimanjaro’s high altitude forests within the next few
years, and with this, the mountain will have lost its most
effective water source in the fog interception zone. With its
glaciers, Kilimanjaro will lose a part of its beauty and an
important archive of palaeoclimatic records (Thompson,
2000), with its forests, it loses its major ecosystem service to
a water demanding society.
Acknowledgements
Field work was carried out with financial support by the
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and permission of
Tanzanian Commission for Science and Technology. For
further support, I owe gratitude to the Chief Park Wardens
of Kilimanjaro National Park, Lomi Ole Moirana and
Nyamakumbati Mafuru, to my research counterpart Jacob
Mushi, Moshi and to Christian Lambrechts, Nairobi. I am
grateful to Prof. Frederick Kayanja, Kampala for comments
on the manuscript.
Conflicts of interest
The author declares no conflicts of interest.
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... Cloud forests such as those on the lower slopes of Cloud forests such as those on the lower slopes of Kilimanjaro also play another important role more Kilimanjaro also play another important role more locally in encouraging cloud formation, collecting locally in encouraging cloud formation, collecting cloud water and distributing it around the local cloud water and distributing it around the local watershed, enriching the surrounding ecosystem and watershed, enriching the surrounding ecosystem and providing a habitat for rare species [3]. providing a habitat for rare species [3]. ...
... The has been the subject of much research [4][7] [8]. The increase in air temperature during the past decades increase in air temperature during the past decades has not only led to the retreat of glaciers on the upper has not only led to the retreat of glaciers on the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro but has also contributed slopes of Kilimanjaro but has also contributed towards wild fires that have destroyed nearly one towards wild fires that have destroyed nearly one third of Kilimanjaro's forest cover [3]. Arguably this third of Kilimanjaro's forest cover [3]. ...
... The increase in air temperature during the past decades increase in air temperature during the past decades has not only led to the retreat of glaciers on the upper has not only led to the retreat of glaciers on the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro but has also contributed slopes of Kilimanjaro but has also contributed towards wild fires that have destroyed nearly one towards wild fires that have destroyed nearly one third of Kilimanjaro's forest cover [3]. Arguably this third of Kilimanjaro's forest cover [3]. Arguably this has a more extensive overall impact on the whole has a more extensive overall impact on the whole Kilimanjaro ecosystem than retreating glaciers. ...
Article
Air Temperature is a fundamental measure of the Earth’s climate but is only measured at fixed locations. Land surface temperature can be measured widely using satellites. To estimate air temperature (Ta) from the surface temperature (Ts) measured on the forested slopes of Kilimanjaro, four models with unique sets of inputs were tested using five machine learning algorithms. The RMSE for each model was compared with a benchmark model. Models and algorithms were ranked according to their RMSE (Root Mean Square Error) The models and algorithms reliability and consistency ranking were calculated. The best model and algorithm were determined. Novel models results were compared with the benchmark model. All models outperformed the benchmark model in the consistency ranking while three out of four models outperformed the benchmark model in the reliability ranking. Thus machine learning improves the estimation of air temperature in this forested environment.
... Previous studies suggest that the precipitation on Mt. Kilimanjaro has declined by 600-1200 mm from the last 100 years (Hemp, 2009). Therefore, a declining rainfall pattern and increasing temperature create a drier climatic condition on this mountain region, impacting a forest fire. ...
... Also, it is essential to connect the wildlife corridor between Amboseli, Kenya, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, which helps the migration of animals and controls wildfire (Hemp, 2009). This work suggests that prevention of fire activity is more reliable than fighting with fire. ...
Chapter
Forest fires play an important role in environmental problems that influence climate change. It is essential to map the burnt areas and monitor vegetation’s regrowth to investigate the relationship between climate change and wildfire events in the mountain area. The present study provides remote sensing technology to monitor the extent of wildfire and vegetation reconstruction on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Active fire information on 11 October 2020 was obtained from MODIS optical sensor and masked the burn area. Estimating NBR, dNBR, and BAIS2 using Sentinel-2 data provides detailed information of active fires and burn severity concerning MODIS imagery. Results indicate that 398.89 ha is in higher severity condition within the burn area of 7011.30 ha. LAI and NDVI were used to detect the damage of vegetation in this reserve forest. LAI and NDVI report that a large area of vegetation was lost, where LAI decreased from 0.83 to 0.34 and NDVI decreased from 0.28 to 0.22, respectively, in this fire event. After the post-fire, the time series of LAI showed a positive vegetation reconstruction trend, which also depends on the climatic condition. We conclude that the dry climatic condition and local human activity cause this wildfire event. However, human activity management and control will reduce the forest fire events in this reserve forest.KeywordsClimate changedNBRBAIS2LAINDVI
... Some of the ecosystems on Kilimanjaro have been the subject of research because of their high impact on regional and local climate change. This is the case for the rainforest, a critical water resource for the lower slopes (Hemp, 2009;Hemp, 2005). The summit ice cap has also been of intense interest because it is experiencing a rapid decline (Mote & Kaser, 2007;Mölg et al., 2003;Thompson et al., 2002). ...
Article
Full-text available
The standard way to measure the air temperature (Ta) as the key variable in climate change studies is at 2m height above the surface at a fixed location (weather station). In contrast, the surface temperature (Ts) can be measured by satellites over large areas. Estimation of Ta from Ts is one potential way of overcoming shortages due to uneven or irregular distributions of weather stations. However, whether this is successful has not been assessed in high-elevation regions. This is particularly important in high-elevation regions. In this study, we estimate Ta in the high-elevation desert zone of Kilimanjaro (>4500m) using four models (five models including the benchmark model) with unique sets of inputs using five machine learning (ML) algorithms. Note that different combinations of Ta and Ts were tested as inputs to evaluate the potential of Ts as a proxy for Ta. The Root Mean Square Error (RMSE) for each model was compared with a benchmark model and ranked according to their RMSE. Similarly, models and algorithms were ranked in terms of reliability and consistency. Correspondingly, results were compared with the benchmark model. Three models out of four outperformed the benchmark model in the consistency ranking, while two out of four models outperformed the benchmark model in the reliability ranking. Therefore, ML algorithms are efficient tools for estimating Ta from Ts in this high-elevation desert environment. However, models using Ts only as inputs were not as accurate as models that used Ta from an earlier time period as one of the inputs. This highlights the amount of de-coupling between Ta and TS at high elevations, which provides a challenge for using Ts alone as a proxy for Ta in this zone.
... はじめに キリマンジャロ (5,895 m) は東アフリカ,タンザニア 国に位置するアフリカ大陸最高峰の独立峰である。現 在,アフリカ大陸には氷河を有する山としてキリマン ジャロ,ケニア山 (5,199 m,ケニア),ルウェンゾリ山 (5,109 m, ウガンダおよびコンゴ民主共和国) があるが (図 1),いずれの氷河も近年の気候変動により急速に縮小し ている。特にキリマンジャロ山頂のキボ峰周辺の氷河 の縮小は著しい (図 2)。図 2 で示した 1992 年と 2016 年 に特異な積雪・降水量の増減は確認されず (Hemp, 2009;Wagner et al., 2021),この二時期の比較からも氷河の縮小 は明らかである。このまま縮小が続けば,キリマンジャ ロの氷河は 2020 ~ 2030 年代には完全に消滅するという 予測がなされている (Thompson et al., 2009) (Hastenrath, 1984(Hastenrath, , 1991Hastenrath and Greischar, 1997;水野, 2003;Thompson et al., 2009 1953, 1976, 1989, 2000, 2006, 20071953, 1976, 1989, 2000, 2006, 年は Klute (1920, Humphries (1953), Hastenrath and Greisch (1997) The glacier of Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) is decreasing rapidly due mainly to global climate change. In addition, Kilimanjaro plays an important role as a regional water catchment, also called "Water Tower." ...
Article
The glacier of Kilimanjaro (5,895 m) is decreasing rapidly due mainly to global climate change. In addition, Kilimanjaro plays an important role as a regional water catchment, also called “Water Tower.” Hence, in this study, based on the analysis of the glacier reduction area in recent years, we aim to elucidate the possibility that melting water from the shrinking glacier contributes to the hillside river water using the satellite image analysis and isotope analysis. The results of previous research and satellite image analysis shows that the glaciers of Kilimanjaro have been shrinking at a fast rate during the period 1912-2019. The mean annual reduction area of glaciers has been increasing at 0.066 km² (1989-2000), 0.067 km² (2000-2010), and 0.088 km² (2010-2019), and if this rate continues, it is expected that glaciers will disappear from Kilimanjaro around 2030. As a result of oxygen and hydrogen isotope ratio analysis of river water and glacier meltwater, hillside river water in the dry season (δ¹⁸O =-6.48‰ ∼ -5.87‰, δD=-42.44‰ ∼ -37.36‰, 3,939m to 4,579m) is more similar to glacier meltwater near the summit (δ¹⁸O =-6.03‰ ∼ -5.14‰, δD=-48.19‰ ∼ -39.02‰) than to precipitation in the high altitude zone (δ¹⁸O=-2.41‰, δD=-3.6‰, 4,360 m), which indicates the contribution of glacier meltwater to hillside river water. In Kilimanjaro, most of the climbers visit in the dry season. If the glaciers will disappear in the future and fill up the river water which is essential for running camps, it is possible that the local tourism industry will be affected.
... Tropical montane pine forests, in particular, have historic disturbance regimes of fire and drought (Goldammer & Peñafiel, 1990;Martin et al., 2007;Myers & Rodríguez-Trejo, 2009;Ohsawa, 1995;Santisuk, 1997), but these may be changing as temperatures rise and moisture regimes shift (Bradley et al., 2006;Pepin et al., 2015;Seddon et al., 2016). While plants in these ecosystems have co-evolved with fire (He et al., 2012;Keeley et al., 2011), the consequences of altered fire regimes interacting with intensifying droughts call into question their long-term resilience (Delettre, 2021;Seidl et al., 2016). ...
Article
Abstract 1. Higher temperatures, declining precipitation, changing cloud cover, and increased wildfires threaten tropical montane pine forests by overriding the environmental heterogeneity that typically buffers these systems from catastrophic fires. Severe fires threaten to overwhelm forest resilience and tip this biome into alternate vegetation states. 2. This study focused on long‐term dynamics of montane Pinus occidentalis forests in the Cordillera Central, Dominican Republic after a ~1000 km2 fire in 2005, the largest since 1965. We used long‐term records to investigate climate before and after the fire, and 19‐year dataset of pre‐ and post‐fire vegetation change from a network of 55 permanent plots (20 small 0.05 ha plots and 35 large 0.1 ha plots) established in 1999 to model overstorey and understorey vegetation dynamics. 3. The 2005 fire was synchronized with the most extreme drought in the region in over 60 years. The fire burned from < 1600 to > 3000 m a.s.l. in elevation across windward and leeward slopes, creating a mosaic of low‐, moderate‐, and high‐severity patches. Lower elevations, leeward slopes, and stands with a higher proportion of smaller pine trees all burned at higher severities. 4. Growth rates of trees that survived the fire remained lower than pre‐fire rates 13 years after the fire. The highest mortality rates were soon after the fire and in the census immediately after the post‐fire droughts. Post‐fire pine seedling abundance was significantly greater in stands with higher basal area of live canopy trees and significantly reduced by increased shrub abundance in the understorey. Understorey composition recovered rapidly to pre‐fire states in sites affected by low‐ and moderate‐severity fires, but sites affected by high‐severity fires remained dissimilar to pre‐fire composition 13 years after the fire. Even though high‐severity patches had persistently low pine regeneration, 100% of small plots and 96% of large plots had at least one pine sapling or canopy tree recruit by 2018. Shrub taxa survived the fire in higher numbers and recovered to pre‐fire densities much faster than the pine, especially in high‐severity burns. 5. Synthesis. Climate change has increased the likelihood of wildfires in tropical montane pine forests, with long‐lasting effects on vegetation dynamics. However, this biome may prove resilient to increasingly severe fires in the near future, given the ongoing recovery of Pinus occidentalis forests in Hispaniola despite repeated severe droughts. Nevertheless, highly drought‐ and fire‐resistant taxa (e.g. shrubs) may form alternate stable states in drier portions of tropical montane landscapes in the future as droughts and high‐severity fires become more common.
Article
The Colobines are a group of Afroeurasian monkeys that exhibit extraordinary behavioural and ecological diversity. With long tails and diverse colourations, they are medium-sized primates, mostly arboreal, that are found in many different habitats, from rain forests and mountain forests to mangroves and savannah. Over the last two decades, our understanding of this group of primates has increased dramatically. This volume presents a comprehensive overview of the current research on colobine populations, including the range of biological, ecological, behavioural and societal traits they exhibit. It highlights areas where our knowledge is still lacking, and outlines the current conservation status of colobine populations, exploring the threats to their survival. Bringing together international experts, this volume will aid future conservation efforts and encourage further empirical studies. It will be of interest to researchers and graduate students in primatology, biological anthropology and conservation science. Additional online resources can be found at www.cambridge.org/colobines.
Article
Land use and cover change are closely linked to catchment hydrology characteristics. Land uses and cover determine the ability of the catchment to collect, store, and release water. The catchment water storage and flow ability affect the quantity and timing of runoff, soil erosion, and sediment transport downstream. Agriculture on of the major drivers for the changes in water flow pathways, which also causes a catastrophic shift of aquatic ecosystems. We assessed the impact of land-use changes on the water flow characteristics in the Upper Pangani Sub catchment using the hydrologic model Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). Land use and cover changes within the Upper Pangani Sub catchment were analyzed between 1987 and 2017 using QGIS. The result shows that agriculture has expanded from 96,737 ha to 314,871 ha between 1987 and 2017. Bare land and built-up land have gained 14690 ha and 7083 ha respectively during this period. Land-use changes have affected the basin's land cover. Forest has decreased from 196558 ha to 106839 ha between 1987 and 2017. Bush land cover has lost 83445 ha during this period. Bushland cover fall victim to agricultural activities, whereas forest is cleared for logging and fire incidences. Consequently, surface runoff has increased from 60.84 to 73.02 (20.6% increase) between 1987 and 2017. Sediment yield has increase from 6.9 to 12.74 ton/ha (46% increase), and groundwater recharge has decreased from 106.53 to 99.56 (6.5% decrease). It concluded that land cover transformation alters hydrology characteristics of the catchment, resulting to fast surface flow, high rate of soil erosion and low infiltration rate. It is recommended that agro-forestry should be emphasized in the catchment.
Article
The continuous decline and degradation of tropical rainforests is currently mainly driven by land-use change. Over the long term, climate change will further exacerbate the situation for the remaining forests. To develop sustainable conservation strategies, we need to understand the natural forest-recovery potential after disturbance and the impact of climate on forest recovery. So far, little is known about regeneration of woody species in tropical landscapes, especially in tropical Africa. We investigated the regeneration of woody plant species in six natural and seven anthropogenically disturbed habitat types along a 3.6 km elevational gradient from savanna woodland to afro-alpine vegetation at Mt. Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. We recorded and identified all saplings of woody plants in a total of 65 plots, each measuring 100 m². The total number of recorded sapling individuals amounts to 4,738 saplings from 110 species of 50 families. Along the elevational gradient, sapling numbers in natural plots showed a hump-shaped distribution peaking at mid elevation, where rainfall and overall woody biomass were highest, while species number and diversity of saplings were continuously decreasing with increasing elevation. The sapling layer in the savanna zone had three times as many species as the layer of adult trees and shrubs in the same plots, but the species composition of saplings differed strongly from the one of trees and shrubs, indicating strong spatial or temporal heterogeneity. Active agricultural plots at lower elevations also showed natural regeneration of woody species, even though numbers of sapling individuals and species were much lower than in natural low-elevation plots. Forests formerly disturbed by fire and logging showed either comparable or even increased numbers of sapling individuals and species than natural plots at the same elevation, indicating ongoing succession. Finding regeneration of woody species in all disturbed habitat types, even in agriculturally managed habitats, strongly suggests that natural regeneration is a very powerful tool to recover forest diversity after disturbances. Furthermore, our sapling dataset provides an important baseline for future monitoring of the consequences of climate and land-use change on regeneration.
Article
Anthropogenic modification of montane forests to other land uses has significant effects on native vegetation and the ecological functions of plant communities, such as in the forests of Mount Kilimanjaro. This study was carried out in Kilimanjaro National Park at the former Engushai forest village, where local people were relocated for conservation in 2006. Forty 20 × 50 m plots were established in areas with different historical land use (former settlement, former cultivation, transition and natural forest). We recorded 132 plant species, representing 114 genera and 58 families. The highest tree species richness was recorded in the forest zone (11 ± 1 per plot), followed by in the transition zone (7 ± 1), former cultivation zone (4 ± 1) and former settlement zone (4 ± 0.4). The natural forest was more diverse in terms of tree species than other sites (H’ = 1.83 ± 0.09, evenness of 0.48 ± 0.02). Analysis of variance showed significant variation in tree species richness, diversity index and evenness among previously disturbed sites and natural forests. The vegetation is at an early stage of succession in anthropogenically impacted areas. However, the domination of Vernonia lasiopus and Bothriocline longipes in the formerly degraded areas was crucial for restoring the microclimate and soil fertility vital for forest development. There is adequate potential for and patterns of natural regeneration of indigenous trees in the anthropogenically impacted areas. The current passive management by Kilimanjaro National Park facilitates forest recovery, indicating the high resilience of these montane forests. It is recommended to monitor the future recovery and succession of the lower montane forest.
Article
Full-text available
The altitudinal and ecological distribution of Erica excelsa on the southern slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro was studied at 407 sampling plots, using the method of Braun-Blanquet (1964). Erica excelsa occurs in the altitudinal range between 1600 and 3500 m where it was found on dry ridges as well as in riverine and even swampy forests. On Mt. Kilimanjaro the upper tree line is represented by pure stands of Erica excelsa, which cover large areas of the subalpine zone. However, this tree is also a component of the montane mixed forests with a preference of the upper, and to a lesser degree of the lower montane zone. However, in the central montane zone Erica excelsa is very rare. The boundary between the Podocarpus Latifolius-dominated montane forests and the Erica excelsa-dominated subalpine forests is very sharp and presumably a result of fire. After a fire, Erica excelsa regenerates regularly by reprouting rather than from seeds. Whether and where the Podocarpus forests of the upper montane zone are thus replaced by an Erica forest is mainly a question of intensity and frequency of fire. The life strategy and competitive strength of the light-demanding Erica excelsa is thus obviously based on its tolerance of fire. The location of the upper forest line on the south slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro therefore appears as a result of fire rather than of climatic factors. Unusually disastrous fires during the last years pushed the extant upper forests line downhill by approximately 300 m and recovery of the former tree line would require several decades of undisturbed growth.
Article
The retreat of the glaciers on Mount Kenya is quantitatively well documented for the intervals 1899–1963 and 1963–1987. The ice recession between 1899 and 1963 was strongly dependent on solar radiation geometry. By contrast, the ice thinning between 1963 and 1987 amounted to about 15 m for all glaciers regardless of topographic location. This suggests that climatic forcings other than solar radiation have become more prominent. Sensitivity analyses indicate that the energy supply of about 5 W m−2, required to produce the observed ice thinning through melting, can be accounted for by a combination of climatic forcings. The direct effect of changing atmospheric composition (“greenhouse effect”) on the net longwave radiation could have contributed less than 1 W m−2. A warming of 0.0 to 0.2°C would translate into an additional downward-directed sensible heat transfer of 0.0 to 1.4 W m−2. A 0.1 to 0.2 g kg−1 increase in specific humidity would, through savings in the latent heat transfer, contribute 2 to 4 W m−2. Long-term station records show little warming trend for East Africa itself. However, mid-tropospheric specific humidity trends of about 0.6 g kg−1 over the past two decades in the equatorial belt have been reported in the literature, and considered to be consequences of “global warming” and the “greenhouse effect”. Viewed in perspective, the ice wastage on Mount Kenya between 1963 and 1987 appears to have been driven primarily by three climatic forcings, conceivably all steered by the “greenhouse effect”: a direct forcing through the net longwave radiation; an indirect forcing through warming and therefore enhanced sensible heat transfer; and another indirect forcing through warming (not necessarily in the region itself), leading to increased (advected) atmospheric moisture, and hence to reduced latent heat transfer, this last line of control being the most important.
Chapter
Within the topo-climatically complex tropical mountains of Hawai’i, there are four distinctive montane forest zones where the direct canopy interception of wind-driven cloud water (also referred to as “fog drip”) plays a significant role in forest ecology and hydrology. Not all of these four zones can be characterized as classic tropical montane cloud forest (TMCF), but to varying degrees each is influenced by ground-level, orographic cloud.