Capacity-building Study Tour to China as a Part of the Cryosphere Monitoring Project


To build the capacity of national partners as a part of the HKH Cryosphere Monitoring Project, ICIMOD organized a study tour to Urumqi Glacier No.1 in the Tien Shan Mountains as well as to the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute (CAREERI) and the University of Lanzhou in Lanzhou, China 5–13 August 2012. This study tour provided a unique opportunity to share first-hand field knowledge about glacier monitoring in this part the Hindu Kush Himalayas. It was also a chance to acquire knowledge about ongoing research activities of partner institutions in China and to discuss possibilities for future collaboration. 

During the visit to the CAREERI Glacier Research Station in the Tien Shan Mountains, interactions were held with Prof. Lizhong Qin, Director of the Glacier Research Station, Prof. Wang Tao, Director General of CAREERI, following presentations on glaciological research activities in the area. They also demonstrated the types of field measurements, remote sensing-based methods, and modelling techniques being used by the research team. The group visited meteorological stations and steep glaciers on the way the field station, located at 3,540 masl, before hiking to the Urumqi Glacier No 1. On the glacier, participants in the study tour learned about characteristics of the glacier and the instruments being used to take ongoing measurements of hydrological and meteorological parameters. The team also inspected the debris and dust particles, which are actually small micro-organisms that feed on the dust and accumulate as soft grey material, covering the glacier. 

During the visit to CAREERI in Lanzhou, presentations on activities at the centre and interactions with CAREERI professionals illustrated remote sensing techniques used for cryosphere mapping; field-based tools for glacier and snow monitoring and analysis; and cryosphere and glacio-hydrological modelling methods. 

Project partners from Nepal participating in the study tour programme included representatives of the the Water and Energy Commission Secretariat (WECS), the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Kathmandu University (KU) and Tribhuvan University (TU).

Colleagues from CAREERI, ICIMOD, and partners organizations (DHM, WECS, KU, TU) in front of Urumqi Glacier No. 1.
The surface of Urumqi Glacier No. 1 is covered by debris and organic material with a stream running off of the surface. With a temperature of about -4° C at an elevation of 3,800 m, the ice is very impermeable and meltwater is more likely to run off the surface. Glaciers that are at the melting point (~0° C) tend to have many crevasses and cracks through which meltwater flows to the glacier bed.
Dr David Molden hands over a peacock window to Prof Ren Jiawen as a souvenir from Nepal during a visit to CAREERI in Lanzhou, China.
Group photograph at Urumqi Glacier Station with Chinese research colleagues from CAREERI.