Fieldwork in the Karakoram

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ICIMOD in collaboration with Karakoram International University (KIU) will conduct fieldwork in the Karakoram glaciers. Researchers from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences (ITPCAS), and the Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University (IRES-YNU), are also expected to join this expedition. 

The expedition has the following objectives: 

  • Measure debris cover surface melting: Daily ablation rate of debris cover (various thickness) in this peak ablation season will be measured for comparison with the ablation rate observed the previous year in the late ablation season. 

  • Observing the current status of the surging of Shisper Glacier:  Measurements will be carried out using dGPS and photos to assess the ground situation of the Shisper Glacier’s surging, which has been happening since April 2018. 

  • Initiating mass balance measurements in the Karakoram: A glacier in Hunza basin which meets the requirements of a benchmark has been selected for continued field-based monitoring. The activities mainly include dGPS assessment and installation of a network of bamboo stakes for measuring glacier surface change and setting up rain gauges near the glacier. The glacier is 6.5 km long and located between elevations of 4,770 to 5,900 masl. The terminus of the glacier is about 1.5 km from the Karakoram Highway.

A glimpse of fieldwork on a glacier in the Karakoram in 2018 (Photo: Sher Muhammad/ICIMOD)