We will characterize the englacial structure and temperature, basal dynamics and hydrology of the Khumbu Glacier, Nepal, by accessing directly – through hot-water drilling – the glacier’s deep interior and bed at multiple locations. These data will replace assumptions made in our second order model of glacier evolution to yield robustly parameterised predictions of future mass loss and the contribution of large debris-covered glaciers to river flow, estimates of which have varied widely in previous studies.
Based on the current state of knowledge, five research questions have been formulated:
A. How does ice temperature distribution vary in a Himalayan debris-covered glacier and how does altering the boundary condition of englacial temperature influence ice dynamics simulations?
B. Do low-gradient, low elevation areas of Himalayan debris-covered glaciers still flow and can modelling of ice dynamics accurately replicate the active-inactive boundary?
C. Is there a deformable sediment layer at the ice-bedrock interface and how does the nature of the bed influence bed stress and simulations of ice velocity?
D. How does basal water pressure vary through space and time and are hydrologically-driven variations in basal motion important for modelling ice dynamics?
E. How does parameterising a second-order ice flow model with real-world measurements of key physical properties impact on predictions of glacier evolution under a warming climate?
We will address these five research questions by fulfilling three key objectives:
- To characterise the basal mechanical and hydrological conditions of Khumbu Glacier using a suite of sensors installed at the bed.
- To characterise the englacial thermal and flow properties of Khumbu Glacier through borehole instrumentation operated and installed throughout the ice column.
- To incorporate these data into a cutting-edge ice flow model that will revolutionise understanding of how debris-covered glaciers are likely to evolve under a warming climate.