Dye-tracing on Khumbu Glacier
Whilst glacial debris, supraglacial (surface) ponds, and bare-ice ice cliffs have all been relatively well studied in relation to meltwater flow on glaciers, less is know about how the meltwater is transported underneath the glacier. The team, led by Katie Miles, travelled to the Khumbu Glacier in order to establish whether englacial and/or subglacial systems exist in the glacier and the relative effects of each. Using fluorescent dye-tracing – the first time this has been successfully carried out on a high-elevation debris-covered glacier – the team were able to characterise the subsurface drainage of the glacier, with eleven of their fifteen traces coming back with successful results. Preliminary results show that subsurface drainage through Khumbu Glacier does exist, and is relatively slow and inefficient at transporting meltwater. Looking ahead the team suggest that such a study could be carried out over a longer timescale to look at pre and post-monsoon flow rates.