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Experts fly baloon over Kilimanjaro

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Smiles, Aug 16, 2010.

  1. Smiles

    Smiles JF-Expert Member

    Aug 16, 2010
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    Experts fly balloon over Kilimanjaro
    Monday, 16 August 2010 08:44
    By Adam Ihucha, Arusha

    After two aborted attempts, a research team from Fribourg University of Germany has taken its first hot air balloon flight over Mount Kilimanjaro to collect data on climate change.

    Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano located in northern Tanzania and is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world at 5,895m.

    Its distinctive feature is the white cap at its summit with glaciers which have been reduced almost by half as a result of regional warming linked to global climate change.

    The team, which includes mineralogists Mario Meier and Daniel Wiedenmann, drifted up to 5,500m and crossed over the massif but were unable to fly directly over the summit after winds pushed the balloon toward the south.

    “The landing was very impressive,” Meier said in a statement. “Suddenly people appeared out of nowhere to welcome and congratulate us.”

    The scientists brought along equipment to measure fine particles in the air. The material gathered would be studied back in Fribourg to help researchers understand better how volcanoes influence climate change.

    It is the first time such research has been conducted from a hot air balloon.

    However, the scientists’ squad undertaking was done without the Kilimanjaro National Park Authority (KINAPA) knowledge.

    KINAPA tourism warden, Mathew Mombo told The Citizen that they were not informed about the scientists’ project on Mount Kilimanjaro.

    “After all, hot air balloons are not allowed to fly over Mount Kilimanjaro,” Mr Mombo explained, promising to make a follow up on the issue.

    Kilimanjaro, which soars over the plains of northeast Tanzania, holds several eruption centres and is covered by a rapidly shrinking ice cap. In the early 1900s the cap covered 12 square kilometres.

    At present it covers just 2.5 square kilometers and is expected to disappear completely in next few years.

    Yesterday, the team was expected to fly near an active volcano, Ol Doinyo Lengai (Mountain of God), about 100 kilometres northwest of Kilimanjaro.

    The scientists say a flight directly over the Mountain of God’s summit would be too dangerous because of volcanic activity.

    The two-week project launched by a hot-air balloon company called Balloon Team in Lugano, Canton Ticino, uses an aerostat to fly over the Tanzanian volcano, where the scientists would study aerosols, small particles, and their effect on climate and health.

    It is the first time such kind of research is being carried out using a hot-air balloon, according to a statement from Fribourg University.
    The scientists are made up of a team of mineralogists from a university in western Switzerland and others from Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg in Breisgau, Germany.

    Swiss pilot Ernesto Merz said in a statement that it was important that such an expedition should have a scientific use, such as finding out more about the actual climate which affected humanity.

    “As pilots, we are sensitive to the environment and a hot-air balloon is perfect for making measurements because, contrary to a plane, it does not pollute and is completely stable,” Merz, who is also the vice president of the Swiss ballooning federation, said.

    A mosaic of people would board the two hot-air balloons; two pilots, two scientists, a filmmaker and a journalist, who will film a documentary on the expedition. A meteorologist is also involved and would be working with local citizens.

    The expedition is an interdisciplinary one since it combines a hot-air balloon challenge and a scientific experiment.

    Mario Meier is writing his PhD thesis on volcanic aerosols and their impact on climate and health.

    The Icelandic crisis, which paralysed air traffic in half of the world recently, raised awareness about aerosols, the small particles produced by volcanoes. But the case of Kilimanjaro is different, as it is only releasing gas and not volcanic dust.

    The scientific aim of the expedition is to collect data on the volcanic smoke from the main crater. It would be the first time any data is sent from the volcano which is 5,800 metres high.

    Taking pictures of the volcano with infrared cameras would allow the scientists to study the evolution of the ice cap that covers Kilimanjaro, volcanic activity and the condition of the volcano.

    The data may give more information about the current state of climate change, as it is thought the volcanic aerosols have an impact on climate, or at least, on the local weather.

    It should also reveal to what extent the tiny particles sent into the air by the volcano could affect the health of inhabitants living around the volcano, as these particles could penetrate the lungs and the blood system and cause breathing problems or cancer, Meier explained.

    One of the problems the scientists would face is flying very high and the aerosol concentration would be rather low.

    Nevertheless, they expect to collect morphological and chemical data, which should help to understand the volcano’s future behaviour.

    Source: The Citizen

  2. Injinia

    Injinia JF-Expert Member

    Aug 16, 2010
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    It is very interesting that such an undertaking took place without the knowledge of KINAPA!
    This article, however does not appear to delve further into the matter in an attempt to find out whether any other (relevant) authority such as a research ethics committee, if such exist in Tanzania outside the medical field, was informed.

    Another interesting observation is that these investigators from Freiburg (the writer calls it Fribourg) appear to be working on such a sensitive issue within the borders of Tanzania, and on a site of such importance as Kilimanjaro, without any signs of collaboration with any of our academic institutions. Many universities in Tanzania are offering courses on Environmental Science and Environmental Management, this project would have been a great opportunity for students to put into practice what (I assume) they have learnt in theory.

    But again, that is our country Tanzania......
  3. J

    JUANITA Member

    Aug 17, 2010
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    KINAPA HAWAJUI, TANAPA HAWAJUI, IMMIGRATION HAWAJUI, MINISTRIES ZOTE HUSIKA (PERMITS TO CONDUCT RESEARCH, NON-TOURISM FILMING, NON-TOURIST VISITATIONS NK NK) - NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING!. No wonder big pharmaceutical houses take plants from Uluguru and Usambara and produce expensive medicines out of them them, even copywriting our plants so we can no longer export our own products. Tanzanite exports needs 'no objection certificate' from Tanzanite1 - (of South Afircan origin) who have 'copywritten' it - or I'm told, or they will be branded 'terrorist gemstones'.