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Reconstructing an ancient glacier

25 Apr 2018, 16:16 UTC
Reconstructing an ancient glacier
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Earth scientists have been busy investigating the Himalayan Barun glacier, adjacent to Mount Makalu for ESA’s Climate Change Initiative. They form part of the 12-strong Makalu Climate Climb team, which is also supporting an attempt to summit the mountain by Sweden’s Carina Ahlqvist.
Although the Barun glacier can be observed using satellites, the expedition provided a unique opportunity to get boots-on-the-ground at this remote location and supplement ESA’s climate investigations.
Research activity is focused on helping to reconstruct how the glacier’s extent has changed in the past. This will assist researchers to determine and better understand the impacts of climate change on its future evolution.
Franz Goerlich (left), Carina Ahlqvist and Laura Büchler at Makalu base camp near the Barun glacier
Franz Goerlich and Laura Büchler from the University of Zurich, visited geological features called moraines, which are formed by the glacier in the past as it grew and moved through the Barun valley. These ridges comprise rock debris that is left behind when a glacier recedes in response to climate change.
The age of the moraines at the Barun glacier is unknown even though several are visible using high-resolution optical satellite images. It is speculation, but they could be ...

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