A team of climate change scientists will be heading to the Himalayas in an attempt to become the first team to successfully drill through the world’s highest glacier located in the foothills of Mount Everest.
The international research team will carry out the drilling at an altitude of more than 5,000 meters on the Khumbu glacier in Nepal.
Located in north-eastern Nepal, the 17 kilometer-long Khumbu glacier is often used by climbers on their way to Everest base-camp and flows from an altitude of 7,600 meters.
The team will make use of a specially adapted car wash unit to drill up to 200 meters into the ice, over a period of around six weeks.
The team, led by Duncan Quincey from University of Leeds in the UK, aims to study the glacier’s internal structure, measure its temperature, how quickly it flows and how water drains through it.
“All the current data collected on these glaciers only just scratches the surface,” Quincey said.
Glacier melt-water from across the Himalayan range supports the livelihoods of around 40 per cent of the world’s population, researchers said.
However, dams and lakes that form on the glacier present a significant risk of flash flooding for people living down-stream.
The team will be working at an altitude of over 5,000 meters and will have to contend with a number of physical and technical challenges.
Equipment weighing about 1,500 kg will need to be transported to the drill site on the glacier.
Half the equipment will be airlifted by helicopter and half will be carried up by locally-hired Sherpa, yaks and the research team.
The team will travel to the drilling site in the foothills of Mount Everest this month. It will be the first of two trips. The team is set to return for a second nine week expedition next year.