Blog

2020 Field Season – Day 2

Day 2 of the 2020 field season and the logging equipment at the Gorner gauging structure is being checked over. All of the data held on the loggers has been successfully retrieved, and the fixes from last summer are still solidly in place.

We’re also collecting pictures of Findelen and Gorner glaciers from previous field expeditions so we can show before / after comparisons from idential locations – we’ll show these on our new Instagram page https://www.instagram.com/alpine_glacier_project/

If you have a picture, please send them to science@alpineglacierproject.org or DM Neil on Facebook / Whatsapp if you have his details already and we’ll do the rest.

Downloading at the Gorner Gauge
Last summer’s Albedo meter fix still solidly in place
For DNC

2020 AGP Field Season Underway – Day 1

Findelen Basecamp, 0730hrs
Logging station at Findelen
Data being downloaded
Significant glacier retreat since 2019, and evidence of a substantial flood event

The 2020 Alpine Glacier Project field season in Zermatt is officially underway. We’ve been significantly delayed by travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Neil and George reached Zermatt last night for a week of data downloading and site maintenance.

So far, data have been downloaded and loggers set up for the 2020 ablation season. We’ve managed to set up more loggers to investigate the impact of braided section on glacial water temperature. Tomorrow, and this is exciting, we’re planning a drone survey of the Findelen outwash plain.

Initial indications are of a significant recent flood event at Findelen which has moved substantial amounts of debris and sediment downstream. Unfortunately, some upstream equipment appears to be lost, but logging stations further downstream by the gauging station are intact and data are available.

Although the weather from this morning’s pictures looks glorious (a “0/8” for AGP alumni), this afternoon has seen heavy thunderstorms and rain.

Nature: Glacier mass loss driven by climatic change will affect Chamonix’s hydrology

A recent paper published by Laurent et al. in Nature illustrates the likely impact of climatic change on the hydrology of the Mont Blanc Massif region.

The authors argue that by 2100, the impact of climate change on the cryosphere and hydrosphere in the Alps is expected to lead to a decrease in annual river discharge, but with seasonal change – namely increases in winter discharge of up to 80% and summer decreases of 40%.

Such shifts in discharge patterns will have significant downstream impacts on water quantity and quality, affecting hydroelectric generation, agriculture, forestry, tourism and aquatic ecosystems.

The paper can be accessed here.

155th Anniversary of the Ascent of the Matterhorn

Today, July 14th, marks the 155th anniversary of the ascent of the Matterhorn by Edward Whymper, Lord Francis Douglas, Charles Hudson, Douglas Hadow, Michel Croz, Peter Taugwalder and son. An extraordinary achievement of skill and endurance, it was the last of the great Alpine peaks to be conquered.

Whymper’s successful attempt, his eighth, was to end in tragedy however. Alpine Glacier Project participants will be familiar with the debate around what happened during the descent, and can examine the evidence first hand in Zermatt’s Matterhorn Museum.

entwistle-2012-september-zermatt-p1010337

Letting rivers run wild could reduce UK flooding

A new article published by the Alpine Glacier Project’s Dr Neil Entwistle in TheConversation.com states that doing nothing is often a better course of action for reducing flooding than heavy handed attempts to mechanically alter rivers.

The study showed that rivers which are allowed to behave more naturally are better at locking up sediment upstream, rather than letting it accumulate in unnaturally high quantities in flood-prone towns and cities.