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Glacier Study

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College of International Studies, Chubu University, Kasugai, Aichi, 487 Japan Abstract The Glaciological Expedition in Nepal (GEN) has been continued by Japanese scientists since 1973 with the cooperation of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. The main objectives of GEN are to clarify such characteristics of glaciers in the Himalayas as the relations between distribution and variation of glaciers and climatic conditions, and also to obtain basic data for water resources development. In Phase I (1973-1979), the role of the Asian summer monsoon in the glacier regimen in Nepal was intensively studied. In particular, continuous meteorological records at a station at 4420 m asl in Khumbu were obtained for three and a half years, in addition to the observations of glaciers. In Phase II (1981-1982), ice core studies and

hydrometeorological observations were carried out in Langtang Valley. Hydrometeorological data have been obtained almost continuously in Phase III (1985-1992). Through all phases, ground and aerial observations were carried out on the distribution and variation of glaciers in Nepal Himalaya. These results in the fields of glaciology, meteorology, hydrology and geomorphology have been published as about 140 papers.

Glaciological and meteorological observations in the Nepal Himalaya have been carried out as the “Glaciological Expedition in Nepal (GEN)” since 1973. The main part of the project was supported by a grant-in-aid for International Scientific Research Program from the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture, Japanese Government (head investigator: Keiji Higuchi), with the kind cooperation of His Majesty’s Government of Nepal.

GEN is also a contribution of Japan to snow and ice projects in the International Hydrological Decade (IHD: 1965-1974) and the International Hydrological Programme (IHP: 1975-), coordinated by the International Commission on Snow and Ice (ICSI).

Establishment of Data Center for Glacier Research in Japanese Society of Snow and Ice Nepal during the period from 1963 to 1973 as shown in Table 1 and Fig. 1. Preparatory data collection on the glaciers in the Nepal Himalaya was made during the period from 1968 to 1973 mainly by a research group of the Water Research Institute, Nagoya University and the Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University. On the basis of these activities, the Data Center for Glacier Research was established in the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice. The first GEN was dispatched by this Center.

Main objectives of GEN are to clarify the characteristics of Himalayan glaciers in comparison to glaciers of the world, with special attention to the relations between the distribution and variations of the glaciers and climatic «f-71

KHUMBU 7 3 – 7 8
Mt. Sagannatha
( Chomo Lungaa )
He. Kangchenjunga
Fig. 1 Observed areas and years in the Nepal Himalaya by Japanese glaciologists.
Nepal-Japan cooperation in glacier and climate research 31
conditions, especially during the summer monsoon season; to obtain basic data for the development of water resources in glacierized basins. The outline of GEN will be described in this report.

Collaborative observations of GEN have been carried out by Japanese scientists in the research fields of glaciology, meteorology, hydrology and geomorphology with cooperation of hydrologists and meteorologists in His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. The Japanese side in GEN consisted of the scientists in Nagoya University (Water Research Institute: the project office, the author’s previous affiliation), Kyoto University (Disaster Prevention Research Institute), Hokkaido University (Institute of Low Temperature Science) and other universities in Japan. The counterparts in Nepalese organizations were the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (formerly the Department of Irrigation, Hydrology and Meteorology), His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and the Department of Meteorology, Tribhuvan University.

The activities and observed areas are summarized in Table 2 and Fig. 1. The period of observations can be separated into three phases, namely, Phase I: 1973-1979, Phase II: 1981-1982 and Phase III: 1985-1992.

Phase I (1973-1979)
The observations in Phase I are divided as follows:
(a) Glaciological observations: mass balance, heat balance and glacier flow, snow/ice temperature and water discharge.
(b) Meteorological observations: meteorological elements and heat balance at the ground surface at Lhajung Station (4420 m asl in Khumbu), and meteorological elements at temporary stations on the ground and glaciers. (c) Traverse observations: distribution of glaciers as basic data for the glacier inventory, recent variation of glaciers, geomorphology on the past glaciation, local climates and ground photogrammetry.

(d) Flight observations: photography to obtain data for the glacier inventory, and observations on air temperature and aerosols in the
atmosphere. In 1973 Lhajung Station was established by GEN for meteorological observations and the base camp for glacier observations in Khumbu Himal. This station was maintained until 1976; continuous meteorological records were obtained for three and a half years, and these are the first data of a long period at high altitude in the Nepal Himalaya.

In 1974, intensive observations were made in Khumbu Himal, East Nepal and Hidden Valley on the north slope of the Dhaulagiri Range, West Nepal during the summer monsoon season. The comparative studies were made on the 32 K. Higuchi

Observations by GLOF experts of Japan International Cooperation Agency (T Yamada, HU: 90-92, T Kadota, NU: 92-94); in cooperation with Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, HM Govt of Nepal
DIHM: Department of Irrigation, Hydrology and Meteorology
DHM : Department of Hydrology and Meteorology
TU : TribhubĂ n University
LIGG: Lanzhou Institute of Glaciology and Geocryology, Chinese Academy of Sciences characteristics of glaciers under different climates, as monsoonal precipitation decreases from east to west in Nepal. In 1976, similar intensive observations were carried out in Khumbu Himal and Shorong Himal (south from Khumbu) Nepal-Japan cooperation in glacier and climate research to compare the glaciers and climates due to the decrease of monsoonal precipitation from south to north.

In 1978, two specific features of the Himalayan glaciers were intensively observed. The first is glacier mass balance of the summer-accumulation type, which is quite different from winter-accumulation type as found in Europe and North America. On Himalayan glaciers, measurements of accumulation and ablation are difficult, since most of those occur simultaneously during the summer monsoon season. Methods to estimate each component of mass balance and the characteristics of such glaciers were studied on Glacier AX010 in Shorong Himal.

The second feature studied was supraglacial debris. Surface morphology, distribution/grain sizes/types of the debris, ablation/heat exchange through the debris cover and the late glaciation process were observed on Khumbu Glacier on the south slope of Mt. Sagarmatha (Chomolungma).

Flight observations were carried out by charter flights of Pilatus Turbo Porter at an altitude of 8000 m in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1978 for a total 30 hours. A Boeing 727 was chartered on 23 December 1974 for a flight over Khumbu-Hongu region at an altitude of 9900 m. These flights covered almost all glacierized areas in Nepal, and in total about 13 000 photographs were taken. These aerial photographs have been used as the data for the glacier inventory and studies on the glacier variations by comparing with published maps and glacier inventories in the past.

Phase II (1981-1982)
The observations in Phase II were concentrated on the ice coring project and the other studies in Langtang Himal, Central Nepal as the follows: (a) Drilling at Yala Glacier in order to obtain ice core samples: analyses of ice cores for physical properties, oxygen isotope, gross beta activity, tritium, chemical components, solid particles and micro-plants.

(b) Glaciological observations on Yala Glacier: mass balance, heat balance and flow of the glacier, and micro-plants on the glacier.
(c) Geomorphological observations: glacier variations since the Little Ice Age and ground photogrammetry.
(d) Sediment analyses of glacier lakes: geochemical components.
(e) Hydrometeorological observations: water discharge at three stations and meteorological conditions in the glacier area.
(f) Flight observations: photography for the glacier inventory of Langtang Himal.
The ice coring project at Yala Glacier was the first attempt in the Himalayas to obtain the samples from the surface to the bottom of a glacier. Drilling reached to die glacier bottom at a depth of 31 m in the ablation area (5180 m asl) in 1981, and to the bottom at a depth of 60 m in the accumulation area (5405 m asl) in 1982.

34 K. HiguchL
On the other hand, the role of glacier meltwater in discharge from Langtang Valley basin was studied on the basis of data obtained by comprehensive hydrometeorological observations, since glaciers are important water resources in Nepal.

Phase III (1985-1992)
The main observation in Phase III was carried out in the research field of hydrometeorology in Langtang Himal. It was initiated by a year-round hydrometeorological observation in Langtang Valley in 1985-1986, on the basis of similar observations in Phase II. The Base House for routine and field observations was set up at Kyangchen (3920 m asl). A complete whole year data set of water discharge, rainfall, snowfall and air temperature was obtained from July 1985, including data of suspended materials in running water. Runoff characteristics of three glacierized basins in Langtang Valley were compared. In addition, observations were made in 1985-1986 on cumulus convection, seasonal variation of the snowline, heat balance at snow and ground surfaces, shallow snow/ice cores and glacio-biology.

The hydrometeorological data in Langtang valley have been recorded almost continuously by die use of automatic instruments since 1985, and the observations are continuing until present. Glaciohydrological observations such as water permeability and superimposed ice formation of Yala Glacier were made in 1987-1988.

Geomorphological observations on the past glaciation in Langtang Valley, and glacio-biological observations related to glacier ablation processes in Langtang and Shorong were carried out in the latter period of Phase III. The ground resurvey of glacier variations from Phase I in Khumbu, Hongu, Shorong were added in the latter period of Phase III. A remarkable retreating trend was found at debris-free glaciers surveyed in 1989 and 1991 since the 1970s.

On the other hand, the importance of studies on glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF) were recognized in relation to construction of waterpower plants in Nepal. Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) has sent an expert of glaciology to Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, His Majesty’s Government of Nepal. Members of GEN, T. Yamada (Inst, of Low Temperature Science, Hokkaido Univ.: the leader for the field observations of GEN 1987-1992) and T. Kadota (Water Research Inst., Nagoya Univ.: a member of GEN 1989, 1991), have contributed to the GLOF project in 1990-1992 and 1992-1994, respectively, as the experts.

The results of GEN were compiled mainly in the following volumes. Nepal-Japan cooperation in glacier and climate research 35
Phase I:
(a) Glaciers and climates of Nepal Himalayas. Seppyo (Journal of the Japanese Society of Snow and Ice), vol. 38 Special Issue, 1976. (130 p: 23 papers & 2 appendixes)
(b) Ibid. Part II. vol. 39 Special Issue, 1977. (67 p: 13 papers) (c) Ibid. Part III. vol. 40 Special Issue, 1978. (84 p: 17 papers & 1 appendix) (d) Ibid. Part IV. vol. 41 Special Issue, 1980. ( I l l p: 17 papers & 2 appendixes)

Phase II:
(e) Glacial studies in Langtang Valley. Publication No. 2, Data Center for Glacier Research, Japanese Society of Snow and Ice, 1984. (136 p: 15 papers & 6 appendixes)
Phase III:
(f) Bulletin of Glacier Research, 5, 1987. (1-75, 115-128: 13 papers) (g)
Ibid. 7, 1989. (191-220: 4 papers)
In addition, as seen in the references in this paper, results obtained by GEN were presented to international symposia or workshops, and published in the IAHS publication series (Higuchi et al., 1980; Fushimi et al., 1980; Higuchi et al, 1982; Nakawo & Takahashi, 1982; Fushimi et al, 1985; Fukushima et al, 1991; Ohata, 1991; 5 papers in the present volume) and others (Ageta & Higuchi, 1984; Ono, 1985; Nakawo et al, 1986; Watanabe et al, 1986; Ageta & Kadota, 1992; Ohata, 1992). 10 other papers, which were the results mainly in Phase III, were published in the Bulletin of Glacier Research, 6 (1988), 8 (1990), 9 (1991) and 10 (1992), and 8 papers in other journals.

The overall number of published papers related to GEN is 138 at present, and the studies are still continuing.
Acknowledgements I would like to express my sincere gratitude to His Majesty’s Government of Nepal, Department of Irrigation, Hydrology and Meteorology, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology and Tribhuvan University for the special consideration and friendly cooperation over a long period. GEN members are very much obliged to many people for their help in Nepal.


Ageta, Y. & Higuchi, K. (1984) Estimation of mass balance components of a summer-accumulation type glacier in the Nepal Himalaya. Geografiska Annaler 66A, 249-255.
Ageta, Y. & Kadota, T. (1992) Predictions of changes of glacier mass balance in the Nepal 36 K. Higuchi
Himalaya and Tibetan Plateau: a case study of air temperature increase for three glaciers. Annals of Glaciology 16, 89-94.
Fukushima, Y., Watanabe, O. & Higuchi, K. (1991) Estimation of streamflow changeby global warming in a glacier-covered high mountain area of the Nepal Himalaya. In: Snow, Hydrology and Forests in High Alpine Areas (ed. by H. Bergmann et al.) (Proc. Vienna Symp., August 1991), 181-188. IAHS Publ. No. 205.

Fushimi, H., Ohata, T. & Higuchi, K. (1980) Recent fluctuations of glaciers
in the eastern part of Nepal Himalayas. In: Sea Level, Ice, and Climatic Change (Proc. Canberra Symp., December 1979), 21-29. IAHS Publ. No. 131.

Fushimi, H., Dcegami, K., Higuchi, K. & Shankar, K. (1985) Nepal case study: catastrophic floods. In: Techniques for Prediction of Runoff from Glacierized Areas (ed. by G. J. Young), 125-130. IAHS Publ. No. 149.

Higuchi, K., Fushimi, H., Ohata, T., Takenaka, S., Iwata, S., Yokoyama, K., Higuchi, H., Nagoshi, A. & Iozawa, T. (1980) Glacier inventory in the Dudh Kosi region, East Nepal. In: World Glacier Inventory, 95-103. IAHS Publ. No. 126.

Higuchi, K., Ageta, Y., Yasunari, T. & Inoue, J. (1982) Characteristics of precipitation during the monsoon season in high-mountain areas of the Nepal Himalaya. In: Hydrological Aspects of Alpine and High-Mountain Areas (ed. by J. W. Glen) (Proc. Exeter Symp., July 1982), 21-30. IAHS Publ. No. 138.

Nakawo, M. & Takahashi, S. (1982) A simplified model for estimating glacier ablation under a debris layer. IAHS Publ. No. 138, 137-145.
Nakawo, M., Iwata, S., Watanabe, O. & Yoshida, M. (1986) Process which distribute supraglacial debris on the Khumbu Glacier, Nepal Himalaya. Annals of Glaciology 8, 129-131.
Ohata, T. (1991) Effect of snow/ice-cloud radiative interaction on the global solar radiation at the surface of snow and ice masses. In: Glaciers-Ocean-Atmosphere Interactions (ed. by V. M. Kotlyakov, A. Ushakov & A. Glazovsky) (Proc. St. Petersburg Symp., September 1990), 495-506. IAHS Publ. No. 208.

Ohata, T. (1992) An evaluation of scale-dependent effects of atmosphere-glacier interactions on heat supply to glaciers. Annab of Glaciology 16, 115-122.
Ono, Y. (1985) Recent fluctuations of the Yala (Dakpatsen) Glacier, Langtang Himal, reconstructed from annual moraine ridges. Zeitschrift fir Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie 21, 251-258.
Watanabe, O., Iwata, S. & Fushimi, H. (1986) Topographic characteristics in
the ablation area of the Khumbu Glacier, Nepal Himalaya. Annals of Glaciology 8, 177-180.

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