Spring Field Expedition to Langtang Valley and Yala Glacier



Researchers from the Cryosphere Initiative of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) leave for Langtang Valley and Yala Glacier this spring for routine maintenance of meteorological stations, data collection, and mass balance measurements in selected research areas. Langtang Valley is a core research area for ICIMOD. Since 2012, the centre monitors the operation of meteorological and hydrological stations. Repeat monitoring of two debris-covered glaciers in the valley with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has provided a unique data for examining the evolution of debris-covered glaciers and the role of ice cliffs and ponds in total glacier melt. 

Yala Glacier’s length and mass balance have been monitored since 2011 resulting in important climate indicators on the impact of climate change for water resource management. The research is carried out in collaboration with Kathmandu University (KU), Tribhuvan University (TU) and the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Government of Nepal (DHM, GoN) in the framework of the Nepal Cryosphere Monitoring Programme. Snow samples will be collected and used to measure atmospheric pollutants like black carbon (BC). Ground surface temperatures are recorded to learn more about high altitude permafrost.

Details of activities during the expedition are provided below:

Snow Accumulation and Melt Process (snowAMP)

25th of April to 06 of May
Place: Melamchi, Gangja La Pass
Group lead:
  1. Maxime Litt, Glaciologist. Email:

Snow Accumulation and Melt Processes in Himalayan Catchment (Snow-AMP)’ project installed four snow monitoring automatic weather stations in Langtang Valley September 2015. The stations provide accurate measurements of snow height and snow water equivalent. Snow-AMP is a collaboration between ICIMOD, the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE), Norway, the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Government of Nepal, Kathmandu University (KU) and Tribhuvan University (TU), Nepal. 

Researchers will visit four snow stations conducting instrument maintenance, download pictures from time lapse cameras, and measure snow density and depth manually (for comparison with instruments).

Hydrometeorology and UAV work

Date: 27 April, 2016 to 10 May, 2016
Places to cover: Lirung Glaciers, Kyanging and Langtang
Group Lead: 
  1. Joseph Shea, Glacier Hydrologist. Email:  

Activities to be conducted in the field: 

  • Visit six valley meteorological stations and three hydrological stations for maintenance and data collection 
  • Re-install current radar water level sensor at Kyangjing
  • Conduct UAV flights at Lirung and Langtang glaciers. 
  • Study detailed surface energy fluxes
  • Install special tower to monitor snow and ice melt at Yala Glacier 
  • Test and operate a new discharge measurement system at three gauging sites with partners from DHM, Kathmandu University, and NVE

Glacier mass balance measurement

Date: 28 April, 2016 to 13 May, 2016
Place: Yala Glacier
Group lead:
  1. Dorothea Stumm, Senior Glaciologist, Email: 
  2. Sharad Joshi, Glacier Analyst, Email:


Expedition objectives are to measure glacier mass balance, length change, ice velocity, maintain measurement network, conduct snow samples, and collect ground surface temperatures.

Field activities:

  • Glacier mass balance measurements with stake and snowpit method and differential GPS
  • Glacier terminus and stake survey to measure length changes and velocity
  • Snow sampling for BC analysis
  • Installation of temperature loggers and collection of ground surface temperatures