Author Archives: Philip Kraaijenbrink

International Symposium on Glaciology in HMA



From 1-6 March the Symposium on Glaciology in High Mountain Asia (HMA) was held at the Yak & Yeti in Kathmandu, Nepal. Attendees from our research team were Joe Shea, Patrick Wagnon, Walter Immerzeel, Francesca Pellicciotti, Emily Collier, Pascal Buri, Evan Miles and Philip Kraaijenbrink. The great gathering of glaciologists that are working in the HMA provided ample room to talk to one another and to get to know each others current research aims, to discuss about new research ideas and to pave the path to new collaborative studies.

Our contribution

All of us presented recent work in talks or during one of the poster sessions, showing what we believe are our strong and novel research focuses in this field. Francesca presented the modelling of the debris-covered Lirung Glacier using the TOPKAPI model and the estimation of debris thickness from UAV imagery. Walter spoke about his key work on the future glacier melt peak and its implications to the Indus and Ganges basins. Emily showed her efforts on modelling high-altitude precipitation in the Langtang Catchment using the WRF model.

The student talks of Pascal, Evan and Philip on Thursday (March 5th), respectively on ice cliffs, supraglacial ponds and UAV monitoring, were labelled by many as being among the most interesting student talks. The latter even won the ‘best oral presentation of a student‘ award and the accompanying €250 prize.

Conference outcomes

Map with pins denoting the research area of all conference attendees (source: Twitter #IGSKTM).

The conference showed us that we have come a long way in recent years in terms of a focus on HMA. Previously, glaciological studies in this region were scarce. At the moment, a quite substantial amount of in situ measurements have been taken, extensive remote sensing analyses are being performed and process-based modelling efforts are made.

In the coming years it is time for the community to integrate the various aspects of glaciers in HMA we have studied so far to learn more about the small and large scale hetereogeneous behaviour of the glaciers in the region and the causes thereof. An improved quantification of smaller scale glacier processes and incorporation into the larger scale analyses will help us to better understand the environmental, economical and social implications of climate change in this region.

Currently there is a strong focus on the glaciers in the Karakoram, Langtang and Everest regions. The field might be served well by spatially spreading research efforts more, especially if to catch and explain the observed heterogeneous behaviour of the glaciers in HMA.



Joseph Shea’s closing words (source: Twitter #IGSKTM).

A final word…

Overall we think the conference has been a success and has contributed greatly to the community by setting the research standards and goals for the coming years. We therefore would like to thank our fellow team member Joseph Shea for the tremendous efforts he has put in as the chief of the organizing committee.


Press release by the IGS about the symposium



Group photo of the conference attendees in the atrium of the Yak & Yeti (source: Twitter #IGSKTM).

Paper published in Advances in Water Resources

The following paper is now available online:

Ragettli, S., Pellicciotti, F., Immerzeel, W., Miles, E., Petersen, L., Heynen, M., Shea, J., Stumm, D., Joshi, S., Shrestha, A. (2015). Unraveling the hydrology of a Himalayan catchment through integration of high resolution in situ data and remote sensing with an advanced simulation model. Advances in Water Resources (78). 94-111.

The highlights of the paper are:

  • Model and multiple source data required to unravel Himalayan hydrology
  • Debris thickness can be reconstructed using UAV data and the energy balance
  • Similar magnitude of modeled debris-covered and debris-free glacier mass balances
  • Avalanches play a significant role in runoff generation
  • Most important contributors to total runoff are snowmelt (40%) and rainfall (34%)

UAV workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal

Utrecht University together with ICIMOD, FutureWater and Kathmandu University organized a successful workshop in Kathmandu titled “Glacier monitoring in the Himalayas using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” . In the morning a broad overview was presented of potential applications of UAVs in different fields with a particular focus on glaciological applications. In the afternoon a successful demonstration was conducted on the cricket pitch of Tribhuvan University. The workshop was attended by representatives of the Department for International Development, the army, the police, the civil aviation authority and universities.



Group photo of the workshop attendees



Raw image taken by the UAV during the demo flight (2.5 cm resolution)



Orthomosaic of the Kirtipur Cricket ground made from the images captured during the demo flight


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