TO BHUTAN AND BACK
There they were, more than 7,000 miles from BYU, with pounds of snow gear and weather equipment in their backpacks.
Dr. Summer Rupper, of the Department of Geological Sciences, traveled last summer with graduate student Josh Maurer and a team of scientists to Bhutan, a small country in Southeast Asia, to study uninvestigated glaciers in the Himalayas.
Their research of these glaciers could greatly affect the lives of many people in the region because so many people in the region depend on these glaciers and their runoff.
“These glaciers generally form the headwaters for some of the major rivers of the world,” Rupper said. “And as they retreat, some of the big questions are, what will the impact of that retreat be on water resources?”
The water flow coming from these glaciers could flood villages downstream, as well as affect the use of fresh water, hydroelectric power, and agriculture in the area.
Satellite images show the glaciers retreating, but scientists don’t know the magnitude of the melt rates or the mass index of the glaciers themselves. Much of the information of these glaciers remains unknown, making studies like this one all the more important.
Rupper led a portion of the crew of 21 scientists and mountaineers to find more answers for the Bhutanese people. The crew risked freezing temperatures and altitude sickness just to put up their makeshift weather station.
“Most of the time was spent hiking,” Maurer said. “The air’s really thin up there, so you take a couple of steps, and you’re out of breath.”
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