800 million people at risk

Source: The World Bank.  The World Bank defines a decline of more than 8 percent in household living standards as high or “severe”; four to eight percent as moderate; and zero to four percent as low. Living standards are measured by per capita consumption expenditures.  (New York Times, 2018)

Source: The World Bank.
The World Bank defines a decline of more than 8 percent in household living standards as high or “severe”; four to eight percent as moderate; and zero to four percent as low. Living standards are measured by per capita consumption expenditures. (New York Times, 2018)

The World Bank released a report last week into the impact that global warming will have on living standards in South Asia.

South Asia’s Hotspots, finds that average temperatures in the region have increased in the last sixty years and will continue rising. Eight hundred million South Asians are at risk to see their standards of living and incomes decline as rising temperatures and more erratic rainfalls will cut down crop yields, make water more scare, and push more people away from their homes to seek safer places. (World Bank, 2018)

This has huge implications for the communities we support in Nepal as we explain below. We urgently need donations to enable us to run climate change adaptation projects in some of Nepal's most remote and vulnerable communities. 

You can find out more about the World Bank report and what is happening to address this crisis at worldbank.org/southasiahotspots, via this excellent New York Times article, or by watching this short film. 

There a several implications for Nepal and the communities we work with:

  • Living conditions in the southern Terai region of Nepal are likely to get harder as temperatures rise. We need to enable citizens living there to adapt to the changing climate. We are currently doing this in Nawalparasi and desperately need to expand our reach. 
  • Extreme temperatures and intolerable heat in India and Bangladesh may force millions of people to migrate north to cooler environments at higher altitudes. The rural Himalayan communities we work face their own climate change challenges, but in the long run they may become net recipients of migrants. We are strengthening the social fabric and economic prospects of mountain communities, most notably in Solukhumbu
  • Climate change is already impacting weather patterns and growing conditions. Nepal and India trade heavily in agriculture, these patterns may become severely disrupted in the coming decades. Our focus on Agro Forestry means that communities are becoming economically and agriculturally self sufficient. With more funding we can help more people to lift themselves out of poverty through our projects.  

This is why our work in Nepal is so important, we are enabling people living in remote mountain communities to adapt now to climate change. Thanks to The Glacier Trust projects, that you fund, thousands of Nepalis are prepared for the impacts of climate change. But we urgently need more money to enable even more vulnerable people to adapt. 

Please make a donation if you can. 

The Singing Glacier

A few weeks ago, via a tweet by Maya Chowdhry, we learned about The Singing Glacier. Naturally we were interested and got in touch with one of the artists behind it, poet Dr. Helen Mort.

Here is a little bit about The Singing Glacier from Hercules Editions who have recently published the poetry Helen wrote for the project:  

In August 2016, poet Helen Mort, along with composer William Carslake, travelled to south-eastern Greenland to cross the remote glaciers and climb mountains near Sermiligaaq Fjord. They were later joined by filmmaker Richard Jones, and together their responses formed a unique performance with original music, poetry and film footage.

We caught up with Helen via email to find out more about the project: 

Morgan Phillips: I'm totally new to The Singing Glacier and your work. So, first things first, please can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work?

Helen Mort: I'm a poet, fiction writer and teacher - I've been writing since I was a child and poetry is my first love. I teach Creative Writing at the Manchester Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University and find coming into contact with new authors really rewarding. I'm also a keen fell runner, climber and walker who grew up on the edges of the Peak District, so my work has always been concerned with how we respond to landscapes. My second collection 'No Map Could Show Them' (Chatto & Windus, 2016) explored the history of women's mountaineering.

MP: The Singing Glacier is a collaborative project, there is an amazing film, a score and your wonderful poetry. How did it come all come together? Did you set foot on any glaciers yourself? 

HM: In 2016, I went climbing in East Greenland along with composer William Carslake and filmmaker Rich Jones. We spent three weeks living beside the calving face of the Knud Rasmussen glacier and would cross the crevasses most days. We were there with Matt and Helen from Pirhuk - a company which leads expeditions in Greenland. We wanted to explore the glacier and get to know its rhythms and we hoped to capture the awe we felt through an interdisciplinary artistic response. While we were there, we were all writing, trying to note down our (often contradictory) impressions of the complex landscape.

MP: How has the project been received so far? Have you had any interesting conversations about it? 

HM: We've performed the project live (an orchestral composition for a baroque orchestra along with a poetry reading) on many occasions in many different places and I've now published the poems I wrote as a collection too. I'm fascinated to talk to audience members about their responses. A highlight for me so far has been meeting poet Nancy Campbell who has written extensively about West Greenland.

MP: People seem drawn to glaciers, what do you think it is about a glacier makes it so magnetic? And, what drew you to this project? 

HM: I think we need to be faced with the contradictions glaciers present: we feel utterly dwarfed and pointless in the face of them, but we also have to accept that we've had a tremendous impact on their behaviour - that's the strange arrogance of the anthropocene, we're significant and insignificant at the same time.

MP: Glacier melt is inextricably linked to climate change, how do you feel about the changing climate and the impact it is having around the world? 

HM: I recently watched Chris Jordan's film 'Albatross' on Worlds Oceans Day and it highlighted the devastating effects human have on ecosystems for me more than any other experience (apart from my trip to Greenland itself). I'd like to get more involved in campaigning to reduce the use of plastic. Writer Horatio Clare is calling on children' magazines to stop featuring plastic toys on their covers and I think that's a really important initiative to support.

MP: Finally, how can people engage with The Singing Glacier? And, what's next for you? Do you have any exciting projects lined up?

HM: If people want to read the poems inspired by East Greenland on the page, they can find out more about my Hercules Editions pamphlet on the Hercules editions website

You can watch a version of The Singing Glacier below.
Enter the password: Kulusuk.
It is beautiful. 

Password: Kulusuk

Meanwhile in Hong Kong

This autumn we will start a new fundraising and school linking partnership with Hong Kong's German Swiss International School (GSIS). Over the next few years, students and teachers will travel from Hong Kong to Nepal to spend a week in Solukhumbu at the Deusa Agro Forestry Resource Centre. The first cohort are due to arrive in Kathmandu in mid October. 

The partnership has come about as a result of a connection we made with the former headteacher of GSIS, Mary Peart. Mary has traveled to Nepal many times and visited Deusa with TGT and EcoHimal team last November. Now retired, Mary lives in Scotland, but returned to Hong Kong at the beginning of June to see old friends and visit GSIS. While she was there she caught up with the students and teachers who will be coming to Nepal. 

Mary reported back to us: 

On 4 June I met with the 12 students and two teachers from my former school, the German Swiss International School (GSIS), Hong Kong, who will be travelling to Deusa in October to visit the AFRC. Despite the challenging journey and very basic conditions I described to them, the students are excited at the unique opportunity they will have to see the work of the AFRC as well as to engage with the local community. The group will stay at the AFRC and will be actively involved in seasonal work there as well as constructing bio-intensive plots and learning a variety of local skills.

The students are fortunate to have this opportunity as a result of the partnership agreed between GSIS and The Glacier Trust. In the first of what we hope will be a successful fund-raising model, the students will raise funds for TGT for a minimum of two years and in return, in addition to the trip, TGT will keep the school up-dated on the project and provide case-study and other teaching materials.

We are preparing the visit very carefully to ensure that both the GSIS students and their counterparts in Deusa, get a fresh perspective on how life is lived around the world. Both rural Nepal and urban Hong Kong have challenges and opportunities for young people. These are vastly different environments where the lives people live are extremely different. Bringing students together in this way is a fantastic chance to explore previously held assumptions, challenge stereotypes and develop solidarity. The contrasts between life in Hong Kong and life in Deusa will be stark.

Firstly, the schools look quite different:

Deusa Secondary School

Deusa Secondary School

GSIS school, Hong Kong

GSIS school, Hong Kong

Then there are the roads, this is a particularly bad stretch on the track from Salleri to Deusa and the sort of highway that runs through the centre of Hong Kong:

The road to Deusa in Solukhumbu

The road to Deusa in Solukhumbu

Roads in downtown Hong Kong

Roads in downtown Hong Kong

Finally, here is what being 'down by the water' means in Deusa and Hong Kong:

Dhudh Kosi River, Deusa

Dhudh Kosi River, Deusa

Hong Kong waterfront

Hong Kong waterfront

Mary is raising funds for The Glacier Trust as part of this linking partnership. She is aiming 'bag' six Munro's in Torridon, Scotland. You can sponsor Mary via her fundraising page

Meanwhile, stay tuned for more news on this partnership and please get in touch if your school might be interested in organising a similar link with a school in Nepal. 

Focus on fundraising

We've been encouraging supporters in our network to do sponsored challenges for us and it is paying off! 

Off the back of the 'Around the Grounds' challenge that saw Glyn and Adam raise over £1,000 for TGT, there are five more fundraising pages live at the moment. To celebrate this, we thought we'd give you a quick rundown! 

Guto Edwards


First up, this weekend Guto Edwards will be running the Cheltenham Challenge. It is a cross country half marathon in what promises to be hot and humid conditions. Guto is raising money for TGT and LATCH, the Welsh Children's Cancer Charity. He has so far raised £500 and hopes to raise £750 by the end of the weekend. 

Mary Peart


Second, we have Mary Peart. Mary is a retired headteacher and is volunteering with TGT to help us organise a partnership between her former school GSIS Hong Kong and pupils at Deusa Secondary school in Solukhumbu. As part of the partnership, pupils, teachers and ex-headteachers(!) are raising funds for our project work in Deusa! Mary, who now lives in Scotland is aiming to 'bag' six Munro's in Torridon! Mary is aiming for £500 and is already up to £120! 

Dan Old - Purposeful.Money


Purposeful.Money exists to help raise awareness of the problems facing people and the planet, and to help solve them through the ‘better’ use of money. One of their co-founders, Dan Old, is setting out on a 100 km walk, the Jurassic Coast Challenge! The challenge takes place on July 22nd and Dan is walking as part of a team who are aiming to raise £1,000! 

John Edwards


John is a former Keep Britain Tidy colleague of our Co-Director Morgan. He's doing a brilliant challenge to celebrate turning 60. It's called Sixty at Sixty! He has been getting up to all sorts of things already, most recently he did the Great North Swim in Lake Windermere! John is raising money for several causes and we're delighted that he's chosen The Glacier Trust as one of these! 

Owen, Andy and Morgan 


Last September, Morgan led a team of five cyclists at the inaugural Velo Birmingham. This year, he is heading to the brand new Velo South to take on another 100 mile cycling challenge with his good friends Andy Hillier and Owen Matthews. They'll start promoting their challenge very soon, but the page is open now if anyone wants to take the honour of being the first to sponsor this year's #TeamTGT! 

Feeling Inspired?

We've got two more people lined up to take on sponsored challenges and we'll be announcing them soon. But, it you've been inspired by these stories, you could be the next person to take on a 'bespoke challenge' to raise funds for our important work in Nepal! 

Poor countries are developing rich ones

'We often think that rich countries are developing poor countries, but in fact, the opposite is true, poor nations are developing rich ones.' 

The world isn't fair. More than four billion people live on less than $5 per day. Why? In this video, Dr Jason Hickel explains the startling truth behind his book The Divide, and points out that we've been thinking about global inequality all wrong.

Dr. Jason Hickel's book The Divide is a wake up call to anyone working in the International Development sector.

We need to rethink how we work in developing nations and ensure that as well as providing aid and enabling support, we also challenge the global economic structures that are holding people in poverty. 

Please read this book and share where you can.

If you want to help us translate these learning's into meaningful action, please get in touch. We'd love to hear from you. 

The world economy is growing - but not fairly. Only 5% of new income from global growth goes to the poorest 60% of humanity. At this rate, does GDP growth a meaningful solution to poverty? And given the reality of ecological breakdown, is growth even something we should pursue?

Follow Dr Jason Hickel on twitter and keep up on this work via jasonhickel.org

Debris and GLOFs

Guest post: How debris cover is altering glaciers in the Everest region

by Dr David Rounce, University of Alaska Fairbanks

If you’ve ever traveled to Everest Base Camp or seen photos of glaciers in the Everest region, you’ll notice that the lower regions of these glaciers don’t look like your typical clean ice glacier. Instead, they are covered with debris. In fact, Everest Base Camp (Figure 1), located at 5,360 metres above sea level, is set up each year on top of the debris-covered portion of the Khumbu Glacier. 

Figure 1.  David Rounce taking a quick break from his fieldwork in 2014 to visit Everest Base Camp in the Nepal Himalaya.

Figure 1. David Rounce taking a quick break from his fieldwork in 2014 to visit Everest Base Camp in the Nepal Himalaya.

The glaciers in this region are primarily avalanche-fed debris-covered glaciers meaning that avalanches and rockfalls from the headwalls surrounding the upper portion of the glacier cause debris to be deposited on the glacier surface. This debris is then rafted down-glacier as the glacier flows over time causing the debris to accumulate at the terminus of the glacier. This explains why the debris is the thickest at the end of the glacier and thinner further up glacier. 

This debris cover fundamentally alters how these glaciers will respond to climate change. A thick layer of debris (greater than a couple centimeters) will insulate the underlying ice and reduce glacier melt, while a thin layer of debris (less than a few centimeters) will absorb more radiation and can actually increase the melt. While this relationship between debris thickness and glacier melt is well known, quantifying the debris thickness over an entire glacier has remained a challenge – until now. 

Our recent study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface has developed a new method for estimating the debris thickness for three glaciers in the Everest region of Nepal. Our method uses pairs of high-resolution digital elevation models to estimate how much the glacier is melting, and then uses the well-known relationship between debris thickness and glacier melt to estimate the debris thickness. We found that on the tongues of Khumbu Glacier and Ngozumpa Glacier, one of the largest debris-covered glaciers in the Himalaya, the debris thickness was around two metres thick! These estimates agreed quite well with previous measurements and were the first time that debris thickness estimates had been validated on the glacier scale. 

Figure 2 . The debris on this portion of Imja-Lhotse Shar Glacier commonly exceeded one metre.  Here, an automatic weather station is being installed during a field expedition in April 2017 to better understand debris-covered glacier melt (credit: Chilton Tippin).

Figure 2. The debris on this portion of Imja-Lhotse Shar Glacier commonly exceeded one metre.  Here, an automatic weather station is being installed during a field expedition in April 2017 to better understand debris-covered glacier melt (credit: Chilton Tippin).

The thick debris on these glaciers (Figure 2) has important implications for how these glaciers will respond to climate change. Specifically, the debris thickness tends to be the thickest at the bottom of the glacier and become thinner further up glacier. 

How debris cover affects pond formation

Since the glacier melts more beneath thin debris compared to thick debris, the glaciers can actually melt more up glacier than it does at the bottom of the glacier, which causes the slope of the glacier to flatten. These gentler slopes enable supraglacial ponds to develop, which has occurred on both Ngozumpa Glacier and Khumbu Glacier over the last couple of decades. 

The supraglacial ponds on Khumbu Glacier (Figure 3) have already begun to impact one of the popular trekking routes, Kongma La Pass trail, with researchers from the University of Leeds projecting that this trail across the Khumbu Glacier will likely be impassable by 2020.

Figure 3 . Supraglacial pond and ice cliff on Khumbu Glacier (credit: Owen King).

Figure 3. Supraglacial pond and ice cliff on Khumbu Glacier (credit: Owen King).

These supraglacial ponds also signal that the glaciers are storing more water on their surface and in their subsurface via englacial conduits as well. This stored water has the potential to be suddenly released causing a glacier outburst flood*. This happened at Lhotse Glacier, another glacier located in the Everest region, in June 2016, which was caught on video by Elizabeth Byers. 

Glacier outburst flood from Lhotse Glacier in June 2016 was captured on video by Elizabeth Byers.

While it is difficult to determine when and how frequently these outburst floods occur, the development of these supraglacial ponds is certainly important to monitor, they may eventually coalesce and develop into a large glacial lake. 

These glacial lakes can store a tremendous amount of water and can become a hazard for downstream communities. Imja Lake is an excellent example of a debris-covered glacier that developed from a few small ponds in the 1950s into one of the largest glacial lakes in Nepal today (Figure 4). In 2016, the outlet of Imja Lake was lowered by three metres to reduce the hazard associated with a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF).

Figure 4.  Repeat photographs of Imja Lake from 1956 when the lake did not exist (credit: Fritz Müller) to 2007 where the lake has become one of the fastest growing lakes in Nepal (credit: Alton Byers).

Figure 4. Repeat photographs of Imja Lake from 1956 when the lake did not exist (credit: Fritz Müller) to 2007 where the lake has become one of the fastest growing lakes in Nepal (credit: Alton Byers).

A recent study in Nature estimated that roughly 18% of the total volume of ice in High Mountain Asia is beneath debris-covered glaciers. Another study in the Everest region estimated the debris-covered area is as high as 32% and is increasing as these glaciers continue to melt. Therefore, if we want to truly understand how these debris-covered glaciers and their potential hazards may evolve in the future, we first need to understand how the debris thickness varies on these glaciers. Our study is hopefully a good start.

Dr. David Rounce can be contacted via: https://davidrounce.weebly.com/contact.html


*Glacier Outburst Floods are slightly different to the more famous Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). 

How Climate Change is impacting global water resources

So much of our project work is about water. We are funding the construction of a new water supply system in Deurali, enabling farmers to grow crops that don't require intensive watering and providing the basic materials to build water harvesting ponds. In the Himalaya's this is the biggest impact Climate Change is having, it is effecting the amount of rain and snow fall and changing the amount of water available from glacier and snow melt. 

NASA scientists have taken a global look of the impacts climate change is having on water and have produced an annotated map to show the significant changes that are happening around the world. In Nepal, it is glacier melt, in other locations groundwater depletion is the most pressing concern, or surface water drying. 


The full report by Rodell et al, can be read at Nature.com. A useful short summary by Eric Holthaus, is available on Grist.