April and May seem a long time ago already, but it was a very busy time, with lots to report!
For my current research projects, an international team of researchers headed off to the Ngozumpa glacier in Nepal. The team from the University of Innsbruck was myself, Anna Wirbel (PhD student), Costanza del Gobbo (MSc student), Lorenzo Rieg (PhD student) and Uschi Blumenthaler (from www.enveo.at) joined us; Christoph Mayer, Astrid Lambrecht and Alex Groos came along from the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, Hamish Pritchard and Mike McCarthy (PhD student) from the British Antarctic Survey; Mohan Chand from Kathmandu University and Anna Sinisalo from ICIMOD. A wonderful team of experts and it was both a pleasure and a privilege to work with such good people.
The aims of the research trip were to:
- measure the thickness of the glacier with ground penetrating radar
- try and measure the thickness of the debris cover in sample areas using a few different techniques
- download temperature sensors in the debris cover for my colleagues Sarah Thompson and Jordan Mertes, who had earlier heroically dug these sensors into very thick debris
- take photographs to repeat historical images from the summit of Gokyo Ri
- and do some experiments with thermal imagery for Mikes PhD project
It felt quite a mission to organise so many people from so many institutions, but I’m happy to report, it was really very successful. I received excellent and uncomplicated logistical support from Himalayan Ecstasy (in particular Sujan Bhattarai), and was also supported by Rijan Kayastha for application for research permits for this study. It would have been much more stressful without their help! We are also all grateful for the support of Kami Sherpa and his staff at Gokyo Resort Lodge in Gokyo, who kept us all well fed and happy!
This is what the ground penetrating radar looks like: On the left are 3 people handling the small Narod and Dolores radar systems with long transmitting cable antennae to obtain ice thickness measurements across the rough terrain of the Ngozumpa Glacier. 3 people are following behind with the receiving antenna. On the right Uschi and Anna are dragging the small IDS dual frequency radar along while Hamish and Mike inspect the data being obtained on screen. Photos by Mohan Chand.
The data collected will be used to assess the performance of various ways of determining debris thickness, to estimate the volume of this large glacier, contribute to volume estimates of glacier ice throughout the Himalaya, and provide inputs and bounding conditions for numerical models of the Ngozumpa glacier.