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Mountains of the Moon glaciers vanishing

LONDON, May 15 (UPI) -- Scientists say the fabled African equatorial icecaps known as the Mountains of the Moon will disappear within two decades because of global warming.

The study by British and Ugandan scientists indicates an increase in air temperature during the last four decades has contributed to a substantial reduction in glacial coverage.

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The Rwenzori Mountains straddle the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Uganda.

The glaciers were first surveyed a century ago when glacial cover was estimated at 2.5 square miles. Recent surveys and satellite mapping conducted at University College London, Uganda's Makerere University and the Ugandan Water Resources Management Department, show that the area covered by glaciers halved from 1987-2003.

With less than half a square mile of ice remaining, the researchers expect the glaciers to disappear within the next 20 years.

"Considering the continent's negligible contribution to global greenhouse-gas emissions, it is a terrible irony that Africa, according to current predictions, will be most affected by climate change," said Richard Taylor of the University College London, who led the study.

The research will appear in a paper to be published Wednesday in Geophysical Research Letters.

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