Kilimanjaro - The Southern Icefields spotted with ice penitents. In the back, Mount Meru.The gravelly terrain holds a spectacular gem: a glacier with ice cliffs that rise like cathedral walls and delicate ice fins that are 30 feet high. The idea of an ice-capped peak on the equator once seemed so incredible that it was disbelieved. ''People claimed the white top was caused by clouds - or even salt,'' Brownstein says. Now, however, this glacier has lost nearly 85 percent of its mass and could disappear in 10 years, according to Hardy. He attributes the change mainly to a lack of precipitation above the cloud layer; global warming could also be a factor, but he says more study is necessary to determine this.
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