Chhota Shigri Glacier photo by Dr. Mohd. Farooq Azam

We are working to get permissions for a 3-year field trial in Chhota Shigri Glacier, located in the western Himalayas in India. Chhota Shigri is a preferred location for the trial because of its accessibility, the availability of extensive previous data on the region to serve as a baseline, and the extensive experience of Dr. Farooq Azam, who will lead the expeditions on this glacier. Further, the Chhota Shigri is a suitable representative of Himalayan glaciers allowing for us to extrapolate this research.

The field trial will include several test scenarios: flat surfaces, inclined surfaces with various slopes, different altitudes and melt conditions. We will test the effectiveness of hollow glass microspheres and other materials under these various conditions. The plan is to use two 10-meter by 10-meter areas, one with the material and one without, for each test scenario. We will measure the reduction in melt and mass balance, albedo (reflectivity), incoming and outgoing radiation, and ambient temperatures by deploying fully automatic weather stations. Part of our work in the first year of the 3-year test will be to determine if the flat areas in the glacier could be preserved with the same kinds of HGMs used on the previous pond tests. If proved effective, this could potentially reduce risks from glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and save the communities downstream. We will determine safe and effective materials in preserving glacial ice for non-flat Himalayan terrains and develop a climate modeling simulation of the Himalayan glaciers over time in year 2 and 3. Based on our previous climate modeling simulation of the Arctic, it is possible that only a small percentage of the Himalayan glaciers may need to be re-brightened to preserve them—the objective of the climate modeling is to determine those strategic areas.

Expected Outcome and Benefits

Our goal is to deliver the following at the end of the field trial and climate modeling, that is, by 2026.

  1. An ecologically safe and effective solution to slow the melting of the Himalayan glaciers.
  2. Determination of the strategic areas that need to be re-brightened for the preservation of the Himalayan glaciers.
  3. The total cost and time estimated to preserve the Himalayan glaciers.

We will publish our results and datasets in peer-reviewed journals, present them in various conferences, and work to influence the United Nations and the Himalayan countries to adopt the solution to preserve the Himalayas and other glaciers. This work is conducted only for public benefit.

(a) Outline of Chhota Shigri Glacier shown in red on Google Earth image. Blue lines indicate the five transverse sections that were manually digitized on GPR cross sections (1-5). Yellow lines indicate 300 m of de-glaciated valley sidewalls on either end of the glacier transects. The purple line indicates the extent between the current snout position and the assumed previous snout position (∼1400 m from the current snout). (b) The extent between the current snout position and the assumed previous snout position is shown at a higher zoom level by zooming in on the Google Earth image shown in (a).

Your Support

We have a potential solution and a great team with eminent scientists and leaders with a determination to slow the melting and preserve the glaciers. Based on our previous field testing and simulation results, we have high confidence of success The research-scale field trial is the next critical step and the team is ready to undertake this challenge, but we need your support to make it happen.

Permissions to start the field trial are partly based on showing available funds to perform the work, so even getting permissions to start the field trial can’t happen without your support. Please donate today. 

Chhota Shigri Glacier photo by Dr. Mohd. Farooq Azam