Saturday, December 31, 2011


Ngozumba glacier
From moraine bank at Gokyo, approx 4800m
Looking south

This glacier is melting.  University research scientists from the US and Norway are studying it to see how and how fast it is melting.  The melt water is forming a lake which the moraine may not hold back forever.  If the moraine dam bursts the water will flow down into the Dudh Kosi threatening villages and towns a long way down.

A BBC news article on this research is here, and makes for interesting reading.

Dudh Kosi, below Namche

The Dudh Kosi valley is the main route up from Kathmandu to the mountains, and includes Lukla and Namche Bazaar.  Hopefully, as most of the settlements are built on the valley sides (to avoid the worst of the spring melts and monsoon floods) many will escape.  However, history records the potential damage - a glacial lake outburst flood in 1985 destroyed numerous bridges and houses and a hydro plant at Thame (a few miles north west of Namche). See here for an aerial photo, and here for further information on that flood and other future threats.

A BBC audio slideshow with images from Glacierworks is here, and illustrates the extent of the melting.  The scale is difficult to appreciate, even with their shot of a climber.  In my photo above the glacier is around 2km wide and the ice cliff visible is probably over 100m high, but it looked like you could just pop down and wander about.

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