Since Black Ice Himalaya launched in 2011, our goal has been to include the local community in our research expeditions, in the form of a Sherpa-Scientist Initiative (SSI). This goes beyond simply helping with gear carries to research sites. Instead, it involves the Sherpa people in the data set-up, collection and analysis processes. This has included learning and assisting with installation of time-lapse cameras and weather stations, downloading data from the instruments, collecting and analyzing data from a field spectrometer (which reveals information about how reflective the snow and ice is – the less reflective, the more potential for melt), and collecting/filtering snow samples to look for contaminants (pollutants) that can be affecting snow melt in glacier accumulation zones.
We aim to grow the Sherpa-Scientist Initiative this spring, during our 2014 Everest/Lhotse Snow Science Expedition to the Western Cwm and upper slopes of Mt. Everest. More information on the project is posted here: http://www.rockethub.com/projects/39241-sponsor-science-to-the-summit-mt-everest-lhotse-research-expedition.
We also hope to sow the seeds for a larger “citizen science” data collection campaign in the Himalaya. Every year, tens of thousands of trekkers and climbers pass through the Khumbu and Annapurna regions of the Himalaya, often times with expert local guides who know the terrain well. Thus, there is great opportunity to educate the masses on environmental issues surrounding the Himalaya as well as give them an opportunity to assist in data collection. We have started this through guide trainings on scientific procedures (e.g., snow sampling), creation of field manuals and new school curriculum based on time-lapse photography and field data from weather stations, and dissemination of these research findings to ICIMOD and Sagarmatha National Park.
Sherpa-Scientists: Mr. Ang Phula Sherpa, Mr. Mingmar Dorji Sherpa, Ms. Pema Diki Sherpa, Mr. Ngima Dorjee Sherpa, Mr. Kami Sherpa, Mr. Passang Nuru Sherpa, Mr. Ang Tendi Sherpa, Mr. Nima Sherpa