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Funded Research from Scott Watson

The deadline for the current round of BSG Grants is rapidly approaching, and to encourage you to get in your applications before the February 1st 2016 deadline we will be highlighting some of the research funded in previous rounds. To kick us off, we look at Scott Watson's research, where a Grant from the BSG took him to the Himalayas.

A team of researchers from the University of Leeds and the University of Sheffield recently completed a four week field campaign on the Khumbu Glacier in Nepal. The Khumbu is the highest glacier in the world and is home to one of Mount Everest’s Basecamps. Despite the high altitude (over 5000 m), the surface is lowering by up to 2 m every year as the ice melts and large lakes are developing in the lower 2 km of the glacier. The project is assessing the importance of these lakes and ice cliffs for melt processes on debris-covered glaciers across the Himalaya. This involves remote sensing analysis using fine-resolution satellite imagery and several field campaigns.

Conducting a pond survey by Scott Watson

In the field, data were collected on supraglacial (forming on the surface) lake temperature, depth, and water level change. Ice cliffs were surveyed photographically to enable a Structure-from-Motion(SfM)–MVS workflow to generate true-colour 3D, and digital elevation models (example here). Repeat surveys will reveal ice cliff melt and topographic change over the preceding time period. It is thought that despite several metres of debris insulating the ice beneath over much of the glacier, high surface lowering rates are attributed to the development of supraglacial lakes and ice cliffs where glacier ice is exposed.

Ice cliff survey by Scott Watson

Several members of the team will be returning in May to take repeat measurements on the glacier. Their progress can be followed on the outreach website dedicated to the study of debris-covered glaciers, here.

Scott's research was also picked up by the global media, with articles in AtlasObscura, the Washington Post and on the BBC.

Grants are available for Research, Early Career Research, Conference Attendance, Research Networking, and also for Outreach activities communicating Geomorphology to industry or the public. You have less than a week to get those applications in - more details on the website here.

If you want to encourage others and highlight your BSG-funded research, please email [email protected] asap.