Continuous borehole optical televiewing reveals variable englacial debris concentrations at Khumbu Glacier, Nepal

Katie E. Miles (Lead / Corresponding author), Bryn Hubbard, Evan S. Miles, Duncan J. Quincey, Ann V. Rowan, Martin Kirkbride, Josephine Hornsey

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    Abstract

    Surface melting of High Mountain Asian debris-covered glaciers shapes the seasonal water supply to millions of people. This melt is strongly influenced by the spatially variable thickness of the supraglacial debris layer, which is itself partially controlled by englacial debris concentration and melt-out. Here, we present measurements of deep englacial debris concentrations from debris-covered Khumbu Glacier, Nepal, based on four borehole optical televiewer logs, each up to 150 m long. The mean borehole englacial debris content is ≤ 0.7% by volume in the glacier’s mid-to-upper ablation area, and increases to 6.4% by volume near the terminus. These concentrations are higher than those reported for other valley glaciers, although those measurements relate to discrete samples while our approach yields a continuous depth profile. The vertical distribution of englacial debris increases with depth, but is also highly variable, which will complicate predictions of future rates of surface melt and debris exhumation at such glaciers.

    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages9
    JournalCommunications Earth & Environment
    Volume2
    Issue number12
    Early online date13 Jan 2021
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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