Dynamics of debris-covered glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Karakoram-Himalaya (2015-2018)

schematicThis project funds the research of PhD student Anna Wirbel, and involves modelling the coupled mass balance and flow regime of idealized glaciers and real cases from the Hindu Kush – Karakoram – Himalaya mountain chain. [abstract]

The project is in collaboration with Alexander Jarosch of the University of Iceland and Christoph Mayer of the Commission for Glaciology of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences.

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

High resolution spaceborne studies of mass balance processes on glaciers of the Khumbu Himal, Nepal (2015-2016)

KhumbuThis project is led by Rudi Sailer of the Institute of Geography. High-resolution DSM based on Pléiades tri-stereo imagery will be used to calculate seasonal mass balance for the glaciers of the Khumbu Himal region in Nepal. A special focus will be on the important, but hitherto unquantified, role of avalanched snow to glacier mass change.

Funding: Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) / Austrian Space Applications Program (ASAP)

hiSNOW – High resolution monitoring and modelling under climate change conditions (2014-2016)

HochjochfernerThis project is led by Rudi Sailer of the Institute of Geography and involves members of ACINN and EURAC. The focus of this project is the quantification of uncertainties in snow and ice melt contribution to runoff for different spatial and temporal scales of modelling. The research involves the application and evaluation of glaciological and geodetic methods of determining glacier mass balance and runoff from snowmelt at a range of temporal scales applied to the Hochjochferner/Val Senales region.

Funding: Autonomous Province of Bolzano

Measuring growth of penitentes in the arid Andes of Chile (2013 – 2014) 

PenitentesThis project will measure ablation processes and geometrical changes of a penitent field over the course of one summer.   An Xbox Kinect sensor will be used to provide affordable, high-resolution 3D imagery, in conjunction with thermal images to reveal the distribution of melt within the penitent field.

The field site is the Tapado Glacier in Chile, and the work is carried out in collaboration with Dr Shelley MacDonell of CEAZA.

Funding: National Geographic Waitt Grant

Modelling debris-covered glaciers (2013 – 2017)

Belvedere GlacierConventional wisdom is that debris cover thicker than 1-3 cm slows down ice melt. However, satellite studies show that lowering of debris-covered glaciers matches, or even exceeds, that of comparable glaciers with no surface debris. [abstract]

The goal of this project is to quantify the impact of multiple ablation processes operating at the glacier surface, and to develop numerical models that will allow more accurate prediction of future runoff from debris-covered glaciers.

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

Climate-glacier relationship on Mount Kenya (2009 – 2013)

Details of this research project with Prof. Georg Kaser and Rainer Prinz entitled ”Glacier-climate relationship on Mt Kenya” can be found here.

The field work is supported by Mt Kenya Guides and Porters Safari Club,  and I strongly recommend them to anyone planning to hike or climb Mt Kenya. We can access the Mt Kenya National Park thanks to the cooperation of the Kenyan Wildlife Service.

Funding: Austrian Science Fund (FWF)

 Cryospheric water resources in the semi arid Andes of Chile (2007 – 2009)

Previously, I led the glaciological group at CEAZA where the research is focused on understanding the hydrological resources originating from snow and ice in the semi-arid Andes of Chile. Snow and ice contribute to the regional water resources, but as little research has been done in the area, it is not clear how this contribution will change in the future in response to projected changes in climate and usage, in particular that of the still-growing mining sector and increasing reliance on irrigated agriculture.

Funding: Chilean Science and Technology Commission (CONICYT), Barrick Gold, EU 7th Framework Program

 Variability of Arctic climate and sea ice over the past millennium (2005 – 2007)

Ice cores can provide multi-proxy records of former climatic and oceanic conditions. The Prince of Wales Icefield on Ellesmere Island has the highest rate of snow accumulation in the Canadian Arctic, so ice cores from this site contain sub-annually resolved proxy records of air temperature, summer melt, net accumulation, regional sea ice conditions and marine biological productivity. This project used ice core chemistry and stratigraphy to understand regional climate and sea-ice change over the last millenium.

Funding: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

 Modelling melt and climatic sensitivity of debris-covered glaciers (2000 – 2004)

Understanding how debris-covered glaciers respond to climate is required to evaluate future water resources and glacier flood hazard potential, and to make sense of the glacier chronology in mountain regions.  In this project I developed a simple ablation model to compute ice melt rate beneath a debris cover and then explored the way that surface debris on a glacier dampens its response to climate changes and how it dictates the way the glacier surface evolves into an uneven surface that can support many meltwater ponds on its surface.

Funding: University of St Andrews, Quaternary Research Association (QRA), Royal Scottish Geographical Society (RSGS)

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