Critical Zone Hydrology Group



Global change impacts

Permafrost hydrology
Flood forecasting
Cloud forest hydrology
Tropical deforestation

Sustainable aquifer use



Valorisation and services

Photo gallery


Climate dynamics of the Kilimanjaro region


Ephraim Insa Tim

Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Environmental Informatics, Philipps Universität Marburg, Germany


Duration: 2010-2012 (phase 1); 2013-2016 (phase 2, under consideration)
Funding: Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Research Unit FOR1246; University of Marburg


Mount Kilimanjaro, the world's largest free-standing mountain, has experienced a gradual drying of its climate at higher elevations over many decades. This caused not only the widely published shrinking of its glaciers but also the disappearance of much of the sub-alpine Erica cloud forest through repeated forest fires. The cloud forest belt on Kilimanjaro (2200-4000 m) receives an as yet unknown input of cloud water (fog) that is likely to be affected negatively by continued climatic drying and forest destruction. Thus, it is important to better understand the mechanisms of cloud formation on the mountain. Earlier work has suggested climatic circulation on Mt. Kilimanjaro is dominated by a 'flow-around-regime' rather than by the more common 'flow-over-regime'. Thus, topographically generated convection may be as or more relevant to cloud formation than direct orographic lifting. Under these conditions, local deforestation has the potential to bring about added regional climate changes super-imposed on changes imposed by larger-scale climatic forcing such as variations in Indian Ocean surface temperatures. This research aims to generate satellite-supported area-wide climatic and land-cover datasets as a basis for further integrative analysis of climate-biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships in the Kilimanjaro area. Primary goals (phase 1) include: (i) the generation of high-resolution meteorological datasets for the mountain (60 stations with temperature and humidity recording; 16 with rainfall and global radiation; plus 5 comprehensive stations) and (ii) the generation of time series of cloud, fog and rainfall dynamics since 1979 and their analysis vis à vis variations in SST. Measurements of rainfall, fog incidence, and throughfall have been initiated in 2011 in each of the forest belt's main vegetation zones (7 sites) to be used in conjunction with stable isotope sampling to separate cloud water from rain, ground-based remote sensing observations of cloud dynamics (DSLR camera) and spatially distributed model-based predictions of fog interception (FIESTA model). The generated datasets will be used to adapt the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) as a basis for evaluating the influence of, and interactions between local land-cover change and overall climate change during the second phase.

Project publications

Kilimanjaro measurements
Last modified: Wed Dec 30 13:47:03 CET 2015