Effect that the debris-covered Khumbu Glacier has on near-surface air temperature.

June 2017




I am very grateful to the Royal Meteorological Society for awarding me funding from the Legacies Fund to take part in fieldwork on the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal. This fieldwork will provide a crucial part of my PhD examining the impact of surface conditions on meteorology in the Khumbu Valley.

This fieldwork was focussed on the effect that the debris-covered Khumbu Glacier has on near-surface air temperature. Few measurements of air temperature have been taken on glaciers in the Himalayas, and only a couple of studies have enough measurements to look at trends in temperature over the glaciers. Modelling glacier melt is important in predicting future water supplies and flooding risks in Nepal, and better knowledge of near-surface air temperatures on the glaciers of the Himalayas is crucial to ensure these models have the correct meteorological inputs.

I set up a series of temperature sensors in the Khumbu Valley to measure the lapse rate in the valley. I then put further sensors on the glacier to examine how the 2m air temperature on the glacier deviates from the expected lapse rate. I also installed an AWS and two extra anemometers to examine the effects of wind, radiation and pressure on temperature variation.

This was my first experience of fieldwork and it was hugely exciting. My PhD was initially intended to be purely modelling-based, and being able to see the area I am studying and experience the weather first-hand was an amazing experience. It has given me a real insight into the difficulties and necessities of data collection, and really helped to give context to my PhD. In addition, it was incredible to conduct fieldwork in such a challenging but stunning location. Waking up to see the glacier out of the tent every morning made the difficulties of being at 5000m elevation worth it!

I would like to thank the Royal Meteorological Society for helping me to fund this amazing opportunity. I am also immensely grateful to the EverDrill team from Leeds and Aberystwyth Universities for allowing me to join their trip and helping me to conduct a successful fieldwork campaign.