Physics Department Seminar University of Alaska Fairbanks

J O U R N A L    C L U B


How dirty glaciers got me to Tibet
(mostly a slide show)

Martin Truffer
Physics Dept/Geophysical Institute, UAF



Glacier ice is one of the purest crystalline structures found on Earth. Nonetheless, glaciers do contain some amount of debris, much of which finds itself at the surface of the ice, where it affects melting processes in a very profound way. While thin debris covers enhance melt, larger amounts almost entirely suppress ice melting and therefore delay glacier retreat in a warming climate. This effect is generally ignored in global models of glacier evolution. Debris-covered glaciers are common around the globe, but some of the highest rates of occurrence are in High Mountain Asia and in Alaska. Recently, High Mountain Asia has been a focus of research, because of its importance as the headwaters of major rivers feeding India and affecting large populations. Alaskan debris-covered glaciers have not received much attention yet, but we’re trying to change that. As part of a recently established collaboration I was invited to join a research expedition to the 24K Glacier in southeastern Tibet, where I carried out ice thickness measurements with our ice penetrating radar. In this talk I will give some background on debris-covered glaciers, but mostly I will just show pictures of some very amazing places and tell you about traveling and working in Tibet.


Friday, 08 Nov. 2019

Globe Room, Elvey Building