Response of Himalayan glaciers to climate change (Royal Society funded)
Glaciers in the Himalaya are changing rapidly in response to atmospheric warming. To predict how these glaciers will vary in future, we collect field observations and combine these with remote-sensing observations and dynamic glacier models to explore the processes that affect glacier behaviour. This work explores the feedbacks between glacier dynamics, mass balance and rugged mountain topography in the Everest region, particularly focusing on the highest glacier in the world—debris-covered Khumbu Glacier in Nepal (e.g. Rowan et al., 2015; King et al. 2017).
EverDrill: Accessing the interior and bed of a Himalayan debris-covered glacier to forecast future mass loss (NERC funded)
The EverDrill project uses pressurised hot-water to drill boreholes through ice to gather visual footage of the interior of each borehole, install englacial temperature and tilt strings to determine the 3D thermal and deformation profiles, and install multi-sensor arrays at the bed of Khumbu Glacier. These data when combined and used with our glacier model will offer transformative potential to this research, by providing an unprecedented insight into the physical structure and dynamics of a Himalayan glacier and the processes that operate englacially and at the bed.
Catchment discharge and sediment flux during glacial cycles (British Society for Geomorphology funded)
Glaciation modifies how sediment is produced, stored and exported from mountain catchments. Ann’s PhD research quantified the impact of glacial–interglacial cycles on proglacial stratigraphy in the Southern Alps of New Zealand (e.g. Rowan et al., 2013). This project builds on those results using luminescence dating to investigate how and when sediment moves through the glacierised headwaters of the Southern Alps in response to climate change.
Late Quaternary glaciers as indicators of climate change
Fluctuations in the volume and extent of mountain glaciers are often recorded in the geological record, and can be used to elucidate regional palaeoclimate conditions. Recent projects have reconstructed glaciers in New Zealand to identify the drivers of late Quaternary interhemispheric climate variations (e.g. Putnam et al., 2013), investigated the possibility of glaciers in the Cairngorms during the Little Ice Age (Harrison et al., 2014), and explored the evidence for a ‘Little Ice Age’ advance in the Himalaya (Rowan, 2017).