The International Glacier symposium in Kathmandu

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Plenary session at the IGS Symposium on Glaciology in High Mountain Asia

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) through its Cryosphere Initiative hosted the first International Glacier Symposium (IGS) in Kathmandu. The week-long event took place from 1 to 6 March, 2015. The IGS brought together scientists from around the world and provided a forum to discuss measurements, modeling and interpretation of glaciological and cryospheric changes in high mountain Asia. 

Poster presentation highlighting glaciers of the past, present, future and their melt processes, hazards and impacts on people were showcased during the symposium to facilitate regional and local knowledge sharing on glacier. 

“Identification of critical glaciers in the Nepal Himalayas inferred from Landsat data” was one of the posters presented and highlighted study findings conducted by ICMOD to identify critical glaciers which indicated prominent effect on the glacier environment of Nepal Himalaya. The images acquired via Landsat generated four decades of glacier data ranging from 1980s to 2010 identified 27 glaciers as critical. The findings were based on three criteria: physical aspects such as area change, terminus retreat, elevation shift, glacier fragmentation; risk and hazards to livelihood, settlements, infrastructures, etc.; and climatic aspects (temperature, precipitation). 

The posters showed the classifications of critical glaciers — clean-ice, debris-covered and lake associated glaciers — to estimate recession loss and its dynamics in each decades. These classification result shows that in clean-ice glaciers, the area change and shift in terminus was noticeable in all decades; however, a prominent loss and thinning in glacier area has more influence in small sized clean-ice glaciers. Variability in retreat rate independent of glacier size was noticed in debris-covered glaciers. Similarly, lake associated glaciers showed a substantial retreat at their snout in all decades, suggesting the influence of lakes on glacier retreat. Shrinking and fragmentation of ice bodies over the past three decades were also visible in the results. The study concluded that glacier area loss is likely to accelerate in coming decades with the enlargement of glacial lakes and points out the need for continuous study of critical glaciers to understand the changes over time to predict water availability in terms of long-term glacial loss and the reduction of glacial hazards. 

Participants at the IGS Symposium on Glaciology in High Mountain Asia