This week, the Makalu Climate Climb, a 12-person ESA-sponsored science expedition, reached base camp of Mount Makalu. At 4780 m it’s the the fifth-highest mountain on the planet.
Swedish Explorer Carina Ahlqvist prepares for her Makalu summit attempt. (C. Ahlqvist)
During the eight-day trek, scientists ascended 3250 m, documenting the locations and extent of recent surface deformations relating to natural hazards such as rock falls, landslides and glacial floods. This information is particularly valuable for ESA Climate Change Initiative research fellow, Romy Schlögel, who is currently using Earth observation data to monitor how climate change is affecting Mount Makalu.
Over recent decades, changes in climate have affected the stability of natural and engineered slopes, which can lead to landslides (Gariano & Guzzetti, 2016). In particular, rock avalanches may be becoming larger because of rock-permafrost degradation.
However, little is known about the effects of climate and its variation on slope stability, landslide hazards, and the related risk.
Mount Makalu and a potentially unstable slope. (ESA)
To investigate this problem Dr Schlögel has been using synthetic aperture radar (SAR) interferometry time-series data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission to detect the high occurrence of hazards and evaluate the relationships between the meteorological conditions ...