Robustness and durability are essential for Tinytag data loggers left to monitor glacial temperature and help evaluate glacier contributions to stream flow in the world’s highest mountain region, the Himalayas.
The International Centre for Integrated Mountain
Development is an international non-governmental
organization that works to reduce poverty and improve the
livelihoods of people living in mountain regions. The ICIMOD is
using Tinytag data loggers to help
evaluate glacier contributions to stream flow in the
Himalayas, as part of the Cryosphere Monitoring Project
which is funded by the Royal Norwegian Embassy.
Dr. Joseph Shea is a glacier hydrologist with
ICIMOD responsible for the Project which also covers the management
of automatic meteorological and hydrological stations.
Debris-covered glaciers exist throughout the Himalaya and field
studies show that the presence of thick debris cover insulates the
ice beneath from melt. However recent remote sensing studies have
demonstrated that the debris covered areas are melting at the same
rate as the clean-ice areas. The Tinytag loggers are being
used to examine the heat conductivity of the debris layer,
a parameter which is required to model the glacier melt, and to
help solve this apparent mystery.
Two Tinytag Plus dual channel
temperature loggers each used with two
flexible thermistor probes have been installed at
two sites on the tongue of the Langtang Glacier,
which is in Langtang Valley north of Kathmandu, Nepal (Figures
1&2). They are monitoring temperatures at the surface of the
debris layer and at the ice/debris interface every 20 minutes, and
will be retrieved for analysis after a period of about 7 months.
The recorded data will be used to estimate the thermal conductivity
of the debris layer, which allows researchers to quantify
the amount of heat transferred to the ice and the resulting
As a robust, weatherproof
sensor, Tinytags fit the bill for the rough climate and terrain in
the area. As Dr. Shea comments, "At 4700 metres you get
intense heat, cold, rain, and snow in all seasons - and sometimes
in one day! We were confident of leaving the loggers to record
reliably, and set up was simple."
Plus data logger will also be installed at the ICIMOD
Knowledge Park at Godavari, Nepal, which is a 30-hectare
park attracting over 5000 visitors a year. The Park is a repository
for important biodiversity resources and a
practical venue for testing sustainable technologies and farming
practices, and demonstrating them to farmers, researchers,
students, and development practitioners. The logger will be an
interesting added feature for the Park with details as to how it is
Update June 2014: The logger on the glacier was
retrieved in the spring of 2014. The graph on this page shows one
week of data (collected every 15 minutes) from June 2013. The
surface temperatures (red) show the strong diurnal variations and
very high temperatures (>40°C) observed on the surface of a
debris-covered glacier, while the temperatures at the ice/debris
interface only 28 cm below the surface varies between 0 and 1°C.
The data collected helps the researchers identify how the debris
layer insulates the glacier from melt.