For years, Africa’s highest mountain ranges have been experiencing the loss of their once-snow-capped peaks. This unsettling phenomenon has been confirmed by the World Meteorology Organization, a report that has also received endorsement from the United Nations. The report predicts that by 2040, the glacier atop Mount Rwenzori will have completely melted due to the severe and ongoing effects of climate change on the continent.
This situation has raised deep concerns within both the local and international communities, who have benefited from the preserved icy expanse of these mountains. The government of Uganda, the inhabitants of the region, as well as neighboring countries, are all rightfully alarmed by this impending change. Despite the establishment of numerous climate-focused organizations aimed at mitigating the impact of climate change, the accelerated pace of change is rendering many efforts ineffective.
The ramifications of melting glaciers due to climate change are multi-fold. For instance, the visible climate shift that has driven the receding glaciers in the Rwenzori mountains serves as evidence of global warming, with observable changes in weather patterns across the tropics that make reversing this situation increasingly implausible.
As glaciers melt, their high albedo property, reflecting much of the incoming sunlight, gives way to darker surfaces like rocks and soil, which absorb more heat. This, in turn, disrupts the water cycle by altering the amount, timing, and distribution of precipitation, runoff, and evaporation. Consequently, melting glaciers can provoke many issues such as floods, droughts, landslides, and reduced water availability for human and ecological needs.
Moreover, the melting glaciers contribute to rising sea levels as they introduce more water into the oceans. Also, glaciers play a role in influencing the circulation of lakes by impacting the water’s density, salinity, and temperature. When glaciers melt, they introduce freshwater into these lakes, potentially disrupting the thermohaline circulation, a complex system of ocean currents responsible for global heat and nutrient transport.
As the glaciers melt due to climate change the waters levels in rivers a long mount Rwenzori increase which in the due course cause floods, landslide which have claimed people’s lives like the recent landslide that happened in Kasika village, Rukoki subcounty in Kasese district where over 10 people lost their lives. It has also greatly affected agriculture on the lower lands of mount Rwenzori where people’s crops have always been swept away by floods. some people have been left homeless ending up in internally displaced camps which becomes difficult for the ongoing school children of the affected people to access school.
In conclusion, it is imperative to raise awareness among the local communities residing around Mount Rwenzori about the significance of glaciers and the necessity to safeguard them against potential dangers resulting from their depletion. Restricting encroachments, preventing deforestation, and avoiding practices like bush burning are crucial steps that should be taken to preserve this vital natural resource.