Successful spring field mission to Yala Glacier, Langtang, Nepal

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Scientists from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) carried out mass balance measurements on Yala Glacier as part of the larger spring field campaign in the Langtang Valley. The goal was to measure how much snow accumulated on the glacier over the winter months. As in previous winters, snow accumulation dominated over ice and snow melt. The team experienced heavy snowfall during their stay at the Yala Glacier Base Camp and had to organize their work accordingly.

At Yala Glacier, a positive mass balance (more accumulated snow than melt) during the winter measurement period from November to April is common. However, scientists expect that the majority of the winter snow on the glacier and additionally glacier ice will melt in the summer months, resulting in a negative mass balance (glacier mass loss) for the entire measurement year. Glaciers are excellent climate indicators. In the past decades, Yala Glacier has continuously been shrinking and retreating. After a detailed analysis the glaciologists will know how the past winter compares to the previous ones, and what that means for the glacier.

The researchers also climbed over rock glaciers with huge boulders and rocky ridges to locate temperature sensors buried under ground or drilled into rock walls. These sensors measure the ground surface temperatures (GST) and give an indication for the possible occurrence of permafrost deeper in the ground. Earlier measurements showed interesting annual GST courses with very low but also rather high temperatures. The researchers downloaded GST data from loggers placed on Tsergo Ri in autumn 2013, as well as other sites at later dates.