In partnership with Green Cross International, Pax Arctica has once again brought a team of Young Ambassadors to witness changes in global climate. This past summer our team headed to the mountains of Nepal to witness changes in lakes and glaciers in the Hinku region, just south of Mt. Everest. The expedition was made in collaboration with IRD—LTHE (L'Institut de recherche pour le développement (IRD) - Laboratoire d'étude des Transferts en Hydrologie et Environnement (LTHE) ) - Laboratoire de Glaciologie et Géophysique de l'Environnement (LGGE-Grenoble) and Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) - Kathmandu University –Nepal.
The Nepalese part of our expedition started on August 14 from New York and Paris. All Team participants did arrive safely in Kathmandu on August 15. Although this is typical monsoon season in most parts of Nepal at that time of the year, we did experience a stronger monsoon than normal and had to wait a few days for the plane to take us to the Hinku valley (via Lukla).
We were also please to meet Dr. Samir Shrestha, a recent graduate from Kathmandu University. Samir proudly and very efficiently filled the position of trekking scientist during our entire expedition.After a most difficult trek through over the mountains overlooking the Hinku valley, we finally arrived on the Mera glacier on August 26th.
The French team of scientists who did install the stakes on Mera glacier this past couple of years is now back on Mera Glacier (November 2009) for further measurements and scientific work. We are all eager to see what data they will bring back from their multi-week expedition and what information will come out of this work.
The objectives of this field trip were:
• Meet our local partner, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM –Kathmandu)
In the Hinku valley we did observe Sabai Tsho lake (above Tangnag): the lake incurred an outburst on Sept. 3, 1998, which destroyed part of Tangnag, and the valley to Khote and downstream.
What did we set out to do?
•Estimate altitude of snow line in region
Map of the glacier showing ablation stakes (red) and accumulation stakes (blue)
Ablation stakes on Mera glacier
Climate Change – Himalayans Glaciers:
• Himalayan glaciers feed into seven of Asia's greatest rivers, the Ganges, Indus, Brahmaputra, Salween, Mekong, Yangtze and Huange He. They supply water to about 40 per cent of the world’s population
• The glaciers of the Himalayas store more ice than anywhere on Earth except for the polar regions and Alaska
• Himalayan glaciers are receding 10-15 m per year on average - the rate is accelerating as global warming increases
• Glaciers in the Himalayas are receding faster than in any other part of the world and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps getting warmer at the current rate
• The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers causing, widespread flooding
• But in a few decades this situation will change and the water levels in rivers will decline, meaning massive economic and environmental problems for people in western China, Nepal and Northern India
• This will eventually result in water shortages for hundreds of millions of people who rely on glacier-dependent rivers in China, India and Nepal
• As the glaciers recede, lakes on the Tibetan Plateau are rising steadily, and experts foresee floods, landslides and mudflows from mountain lakes overrunning their banks.
Source: WWF, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
The group of environmental advocates and children that Pax Arctica lead:
Patrick Wagnon and Yves Arnaud: Glaciologists, energy balance on glaciers
A scientific program conducted in collaboration with the DHM in Kathmandu (Department of Hydrology and Meteorology) lead by
Dr. Om Baratchraya and Dr. Rijan Bhakta Kayastha
• The world glaciers observatory, coordinated by Patrick Wagnon:
• for a similar study conducted in India:
• for an article in LA RECHERCHE (juillet 2008):
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