Please tell us about yourself

For this month’s HKH CryoHub: In the Spotlight, we caught up with Mohan B Chand, who is currently doing his PhD at Hokkaido University, Japan. Chand is a 2014 graduate of the MS by Research in Glaciology programme in Kathmandu University, Nepal.

In the Spotlight question (SQ): Congratulations! We heard you have recently been awarded a grant from the National Geographic Society.

Mohan: Thank you for talking to me for this month’s “In the Spotlight.” Yes, I received a prestigious research grant known as the Early Career Grant from the reputed National Geographic Society. I feel quite proud to be a National Geographic Explorer.

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What did you study?

I did my Masters in Glaciology and Environmental Science from Kathmandu University. Iam a PhD student in Environmental Science (Geography major) at Graduate School of Environmental Science, Hokkaido University,

SQ: What does this grant mean for you?

Mohan: I am currently doing my PhD at Hokkaido University in Japan, but it is difficult to conduct field surveys for my project without significant financial support. As my research site is in the Everest region in Nepal, it is quite expensive to travel all the way from Japan to Nepal for fieldwork. I had been exploring research grants for the past year, and I am happy and relieved to be selected. Receiving this grant made it possible to collect field measurements, an important part of my PhD degree. This grant will not only help me complete my degree but also enabled me to contribute an essential database from the Everest region. This grant will be helpful even for my future career.

SQ: What kind of research will you be doing for this grant?

Mohan: My research is on the development of supraglacial ponds at the surface of all debris-covered glaciers in Sagarmatha National Park, Everest region, Nepal. I want to validate the results obtained from different resolution satellite images, ranging from 30 to 0.5 m in resolution. 

During the course of my research, I found that most past studies used coarse-resolution images to study small ponds at the glacier’s surface. I will be using very fine resolution images – about 0.5 m in resolution. 

I received an imagery grant from the DigitalGlobe Foundation to access their very high-resolution satellite images of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH), specifically images of the Everest region. I am also using images acquired from Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) to validate satellite images and understand the morphology of the terminus part of the Ngozumpa Glacier, the largest glacier in Nepal, where a big spillway is developing. Further, I am developing a topographic map (Digital Elevation Model) using image analysis for this part of the glacier.

Combining research findings from different resolution images and UAVs can build knowledge on the current state and trends of supraglacial ponds in the Everest region. Moreover, UAV images and observations of supraglacial ponds (i.e., Spillway Lake, which may develop into a large terminal glacial lake) at the terminus of the Ngozumpa Glacier will help improve understanding of its current state and predict its future development.

The terminus part of the Ngozumpa Glacier with complex supraglacial ponds (Spillway Lake), where the Dudh Koshi River originates (Photo: Mohan B Chand)

SQ: As a young glaciologist from the Hindu Kush Himalayan (HKH) region, why do you think that cryosphere research is important in the region?

Mohan: Our region is dependent on glacier melt and snowmelt as the main source of water for drinking, agriculture, and other livelihood-sustaining purposes. Glacier melt and snowmelt are increasingly being used to generate hydroelectricity. We need more data on future water availability and water-related risks. For instance, rise in temperatures accelerates the glacier melt process and increases the loss of glacier mass and formation of glacial lakes with outburst potential. These issues need more attention for evidence-based decision making and disaster risk reduction and mitigation.

SQ: Where do see yourself in the next five years?

Mohan: The main issue in the HKH region is the lack of continuous monitoring of glaciers and glacial lakes. I will continue improving my skills to contribute significantly in addressing the data gap for the region. 

SQ: What would your message be to decision makers?

Mohan: Decision makers have a key role in making water resource management plans, disaster risk reduction management plans, and several other aspects. These plans need in-depth databases and recommendations from researchers on the basis of field measurements and monitoring. The governments across the region need to proactively involve researchers while formulating strategies and plans for water resource management and disaster risk reduction.

SQ: Can you give us some tips on what young glaciologists need to consider in their grant application?

Mohan: Young glaciologists should have a concrete plan in place and highlight their own methods and capacity to lead the project independently: These make for a winning application. At the same time, passion for glaciology plays important role. Grant committees also look into your argument for research in the specific region and the project’s importance and contribution to the scientific community, local communities, and governments. It is also good to regularly consult experts and academicians for improving your applications. Give your best and never lose confidence.