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Aberystwyth glaciologists return to drill the world’s highest glacier

Glaciologists from Aberystwyth University are returning to the Himalayas, a year on from a successful mission to drill through the world’s highest glacier.

Polar Medal holder Professor Bryn Hubbard and postgraduate researcher Katie Miles from Aberystwyth University’s Centre for Glaciology will travel to Khumbu Glacier in the foothills of Mount Everest.

The team departed for the Himalayas over the weekend, 14/15 April 2018.

In April 2017, and working at around 5000 metres above sea level, Hubbard and Miles were members of the first team to successfully drill to the base of the 17 km-long glacier which flows from an altitude of 7600 meters to around 4900 metres at its terminus.

At the highest point, near Everest base camp, the team spent three days drilling 150 metres into the glacier before recording its internal structure using a 360ocamera developed by partners Robertson Geologging of Deganwy, north Wales.

This year the team will be working at around 300 metres higher up the glacier as they study its internal structure, measure its temperature, how quickly it flows and how water drains through it.

Combined with satellite images, the data collected will enable researchers to understand how the glacier moves and changes over time, and to model how it might respond to anticipated climate change.

Professor Hubbard said:

“Returning to the sites where we drilled last year will enable us to collect the data loggers that have been recording for the last 12 months, and for the first time see how this glacier might respond to future changes in climate. We also want to take new measurements above Everest Base Camp, so that we have the best chance of characterising the ice descending from the Western Cwm.”

The work is part of the EverDrill research project led by the University of Leeds.