Morphological evolution of ice cliff backwasting in relation to supraglacial channel incision on Satopanth Glacier, Indian Himalaya
44% of Earth’s glaciers in high relief mountains are covered by a layer of rock debris that insulates the ice from atmospheric forcing and hence reduces ice melt. However, as the debris cover is not homogeneous, space remains that produces differential melting under variable debris thicknesses, creating a surface morphology in the form of strongly incised supraglacial valleys typically observed on debris-covered glacier tongues. These supraglacial valleys are characterised by supraglacial channels surmounted by ice cliffs, whose links and formation processes are still poorly understood. The main objectives of this project are (i) to determine and quantify the role of the supraglacial channels incision on the ice cliff formation and backwasting, as well as (ii) to identify and analyse the influencing external variables. The method will consist of (i) in situ measurements of channel incision and ice cliff melt via manual measurements and handheld laser scanning, (ii) stereo photogrammetry from time-lapse imagery via two stereo cameras mounted on stakes drilled into the ice and (iii) measurements of channel discharge and debris thickness via salt tracer experiments and an electric conductivity logger. After the acquisition, feature tracking and calculation of the melt vertices by subtraction of point clouds from the time-lapse imagery allows a more quantitative analysis of the retreat and geometric change of the channels and ice cliffs over time. The discharge and thickness data will be correlated with the feature-tracking data.
|Satopanth Glacier, Southern slope of Balakun mountain, Chamoli district in the Indian state of Uttarakhand
|1st June 2022 – 31st December 2022
|Polar Access Fund