Congratulations to the Alpine Glacier Project’s Zayd Abid-Waheed who will present a paper in the upcoming 3rd GAUC Graduate Forum & Global Youth Summit on Net-Zero Futures later this month.
The GAUC (Global Alliance Of Universities on Climate) states its aims are to “synergize the momentum of climate actions brought by the global major climate events including New York Climate Week, the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15), and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26)”.
Organising the event are Columbia University, the University of Oxford, Yale University, and Tsinghua University, as part of the COP 26 Universities Network.
Zayd’s conference abstract follows below:
Hydropower Longevity: 2D Modelling of Sediment Dynamics in Climate Impacted Glacier Fed River Basins
Glaciers are a significant contributor of sediment into a hydrological system and, with the acceleration of deglaciation due to a changing climate, this presents an increased sediment load in high mountain areas. This represents a problem for glacier-fed hydropower schemes such those in Switzerland, which produce 56% of energy through hydropower. Sedimentation is the most common source of failure and inefficiency in hydropower, according to present research.
Prior research, however, suggests that periglacial and proglacial systems (environments located on the margin of past glaciers) through slope and depositional processes will lose much of the energy, and thereby sediment, before reaching hydropower infrastructure. However, this is theoretical and unobserved due to the difficulties of high mountain environments. Therefore, this paper aims to use innovative techniques to model the sediment dynamics of high mountain glacial catchments to identify the mechanics and validity of this phenomenon on multiple basins over time. This study also serves as a trailblazing and novel first test for the accuracy and limits of 2D modelling software in an extreme environment. The study further aims to investigate the climatic changes over time that these sedimentation patterns have had, using historic datasets to model and investigate how proximity of the historic glacial terminus affects trends using datasets stemming back to the Little Ice Age (1850).
Initial results on the single site of Findelngletscher, Switzerland, for this in-progress study show that, indeed, sediment connectivity acts in the self-managing status observed by other studies with significantly less sediment delivered to the hydropower inlet location, with much of the glacial sediment being dissipated in depositional alluvial systems. Further modelling is to be carried out to identify this trend over time as well as on the two additional catchments; Gornergletscher and Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland, to identify how topography influences sediment connectivity in Alpine systems.