KU conducts first glacier survey with help of droneA group of Nepali experts have carried out the first survey of a glacier located in Manang district using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)—popularly known as drone.
A group of Nepali experts have carried out the first survey of a glacier located in Manang district using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)—popularly known as drone.
Earlier this month, researchers from the Himalayan Cryosphere, Climate and Disaster Research Center (HiCCDRC) under the Kathmandu University led by Rijan Bhakta Kayastha carried out glaciological and hydro-meteorological studies on Ponkar Glacier, covering an area of 28.51 square kilometres at Bhimtang in Manang to determine its melting rate over a certain period of time.
“We surveyed a portion of the glacier using a UAV for the first time. The data obtained will be used to create a high resolution topographic map. That will help determine the total ice melt between two survey periods when they repeat the UAV after 6-7 months,” said Kayastha, HiCCDRC coordinator, adding, “The glacier is one of the nearest and most accessible to carry out studies on impacts of climate change.”
According to him, the successful mission has encouraged the Nepali experts to use UAVs for glaciological studies on other glaciers. The Ponkar Glacier lies in the headwaters of Dudh Khola, a tributary of Marsyangdi River, and the study will help to learn about the climate of Dharapani to Bhimthang area and contribution of snow and ice melt water to total discharge in Dudh Khola and then in Marsyangdi River.
The study, funded by the USAID through the University of Colorado, Boulder, will further focus on the distribution of discharge of Dudh Khola in future using glacio-hydrological model and projected climate data of that area.
“All these data will be helpful to know the impacts of climate change on Dudh Khola and then Marsyangdi River that feeds three hydro power plants,” Kayastha added.
During the study carried out in March this year, the team installed sensors for measuring temperatures and rainfall at different altitudes from Dharapani and moving up to Ponkar Lake. The team has measured discharge of Dudh Khola and put a water level sensor there for hydrological study.