The primary scientific goal of this 2011 MEG grant was to determine the current melt-rates for glaciers in the monsoonal Himalayas and how these rates will affect the size of glaciated areas and water resources in the next few decades. The target region was the Kingdom of Bhutan. The primary mentoring purpose of this proposal was to provide undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in this multi-institutional, international research project, contribute to science that is of direct, societal importance, and be part of a unique cultural experience.
The research project has been very successful. Six students (four undergraduate and two graduate) have been involved in the project over the past two years. These students have collaborated closely with researchers at Columbia University, NASA, and UWICE (Bhutan) as part of this project. As a team, we have installed the first, high elevation weather station in the Eastern Himalaya, installed the first in-situ mass balance monitoring program in the Bhutanese Himalayas, created the first map of glacierized area for Bhutan, modeled the glacier meltwater flux for present climatic conditions and for future changes, and reconstructed the glacial history for the region. Through this research, students were introduced to the tools and techniques used in remote sensing, fieldwork, and numerical modeling. They participated in weekly journal clubs and lab meetings, skype conferences with collaborators, and workshops/meetings at LDEO and BYU with collaborators. They were also introduced to a unique culture, and have begun forming international collaborations very early in their careers.
The results of the research have been presented as four international conference abstracts/papers, six student research conference presentations (BYU, CPMS), one published paper, and one paper in review. Students are authors or coauthors on all of these. In addition, the results of the MEG formed the template for a successful NSF proposal, awarded fall of 2013. The NSF proposal will help us continue this research for the next three years, with full funding for two graduate students and three undergraduate students. Finally, one undergraduate student used his MEG research to propose further remote sensing work over the glacierized region of Bhutan. His proposal was successful, and he has continued his research on Himalayan glaciers as a graduate student here at BYU, funded by his own NASA-fellowship.
Rupper, S., S. Schaefer, L. Burgener, L. Koenig, K. Tsering, E. Cook. 2012. Sensitivity and response of Bhutanese glaciers to atmospheric warming. Geophysical Research Letters, 39, 19, doi: 10.1029/2012GL053010.
Rupper, S., E. Cook, S. Schaefer, A. Putnam, P. Krusic, J. Maurer, K. Tsering, T. Rinzen, R. Smith, in review. Himalayan glacier retreat anomalous in the at least the past millennium. Nature.
NSF Paleo Perspectives on Climate Change – Climate and glacier change in Bhutan: the last millennia, present, and future: $552,894 (2013-2016). Collaborators: Joerg Schaefer (LDEO, Columbia University) and Edward Cook (LDEO, Columbia University).
Rupper, S., *Maurer, J., Schaefer, J., Cook, E., Putnam, A., Krusic, P., +Smith, R., 2013: Glacier sensitivity to climate change in the monsoonal Himalaya: Past, present, and future. AGU, Fall Meeting.
Keeler, D., Havens, A., Rupper, S., Christensen, W., 2013: An improved temperature index model for alpine glaciers using derived degree-day factors from climatic inputs. AGU, Fall Meeting.
Maurer, J., Rupper, S., 2013: Estimating regional mass balance of Himalayan glaciers using Hexagon Imagery: An automated approach. AGU, Fall Meeting.
Rupper, S., Schaefer, J., Burgener, L, Smith, R., Maurer, J., Cook, E., Putnam, A., Krusic, P., Tsering, K., Koenig, L., 2012: Glacier changes in the Bhutanese Himalaya – Present and Future. AGU, Fall Meeting.
Two student presentations at BYU CPMS Student Research Conference in 2012 and four presentations in 2013.
The students involved were:
The budget was used to support undergraduate student salary ($9500), student travel for conferences and fieldwork ($7000), and supplies for fieldwork ($3200).