Prasamsa Thapa and Rijan Kayastha, Nepal


Hello, my name is Prasamsa Thapa. I am from Nepal and I grew up in the capital city of Nepal that is Kathmandu. I am an undergraduate student of Kathmandu University studying Bsc. Honors in Environmental Science.  My future goal is to become an Environmentalist and work on climate issues. I am very adventurous person therefore I like to travel new places and explore new culture. 

Hello, my name is Dr. Rijan Bhakta Kayastha from Bhaktapur City, Nepal. I grew up in my home town and did my schooling also from Bhaktapur. I did my college level and university level education from Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Neapl. I did my M. Sc., D. Sc. and Postdoc from Nagoya University, Japan in Glaciology. My second Postdoc was from Max-Planck Institute for Bio-geochemistry, Germany. I am working as an Assistant Professor in Kathmandu University, Dhulikhel, Nepal since September 2006. I would like to do research on Himalayan Cryosphere and produce young researchers on Cryospheric Science. I love to read news, going out and eat in free time.


Surface Area Variarion and Climatology of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake using Remote Sensing and GIS, Dolakha District, Nepal


Glaciers in the Himalayan region have been rapidly receding since past few years. The reason behind the retreat is predicted to be the climate change i.e. the atmospheric warming which is being responsible for the expansion of the glacial lakes on the lower section of many glaciers. The rapid expansion of the glacial lakes has high chances of triggering Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF). Tsho Rolpa glacial lake has formed by the retreat of Trakarding Glacier at the head of Rolwaling Valley in the northern Nepal. This research will help to measure the expansion of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake and retreat rate of Trakarding Glacier using Remote Sensing Techniques.The expansion of the Tsho Rolpa Glacier Lake caused by the change in climate is important to study as it is increasing the risk of GLOF, which may cause loss of life and property downstream.

Objectives of study

  • To measure the expansion of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake and the rate of retreat of Trakarding Glacier using Remote Sensing Techniques and GIS;
  • To study the change in surface temperatue of lake water and Glacier using Remote Sensing techniques and
  • To study climate of surroundings of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake
Study Area

The Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake is located at about 110 km northeast of Kathmandu in the Rolwaling Valley. It is situated in ward no. 1 of the Gauri-Shankar Village Development Committee (VDC) in the Dolakha district of Nepal, and takes about 7 days of walk from Dolakha. It is present at an altitude of 4,546 masl.


The most practical way to get a spatially broad and continuous measurement of the area,  and surface temperature of the cryosphere is through satellite remote sensing. For the image acquisition we might use Landsat Multispectral Scanner System. Satellite remote sensing has the potential to provide measurements in the spatial and temporal scales required by energy-balance modeling (Knap et al., 1998).The tools provided by SERVIR can also be significant to conduct the research.


The data that will be collected from the field visit will be our primary data as the data will be taken from the meteorological stations nearby lake area on our own.
The evolution of the Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake and its size can be known from the published journals and earlier field surveys which are the secondary data. The increment in the size of the lake indicates the retreat of the Trakarding Glacier and the data of four different years will be analyzed via satellite images. The changes that have been observed in the lake size in 1990, 2000, 2009 and 2012 will be the main part of a concern in this research. The data of 2012 will be the primary data that is to be collected via LANDSAT MSS and will be compared with the earlier field surveys and published journals. The comparison will thus give the present size of the lake as well as the rate of retreat of Trakarding Glacier. The retreat rate of the glacier is known by the decreasing length of Trakarding Glacier.

Significance of the study

The expected output of this study is a research document that links the data of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake size since 1990 with the Tsho Rolpa Lake size of 2012. The study aims on finding out the spatial and temporal variation of retreat rate, albedo change and thermal regime change within the glacier and its periphery.Thus, the paper will contribute on the following major research outputs:
  • Expansion of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake and retreat of Trakarding Glacier since 1990-2012
  • Estimation of spatial and temporal thermal regime of Tsho Rolpa and Trakarding Glacier and its changes in 1990s and 2012
  • Variation of climate of Rolwaling Valley
  • Present size of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake

The clarification of the glacial lake expansion process is possible from the analysis of the relation between the glacial lake expansion and the change in thermal regime of the lake.By knowing the expansion of Tsho Rolpa Glacial Lake and the retreat rate of Trakarding glacier, will help other researchers also to further work on the hazard assessment of GLOF in the Rolwaling Valley.Besides that, fulfilling all the main objectives, research shows whether the retreat of Trakarding Glacier is the result of climate change or not.


Chitika, K; Yamada, T; Sakai, A; Ghimire, RP (1997) ‘Hydrodynamic effects on the basin expansion of Tsho Rolpa Glacier Lake in the Nepal Himalaya.’ Bulletin of Glacier Research 15: 59-69

Hall, D.K., Box, J.E., Casey, K.A., Hook, S.A., Shuman, C.A. and Steffen, K.(2008): Comparison of satellite-derived and in-situ observations of ice and snow surface temperatures over Greenland. Remote Sensing Environment 112, 3739-3749

ICIMOD (2011). Glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods in Nepal, Kathmandu: ICIMOD

Knap, W.H., Brock, B.W., Oerlemans, J. and Willis, I.C. (1999): Comparison of Landsat TM-derived and ground-based albedos of Haut Glacier d’Arolla, Switzerland, International Journal of Remote Sensing, 20:17, 3293-3310

Oerlemans, J., 1993, A model for the surface balance of ice masses: part I. Alpine glaciers. Zeitschrift fÜ r Gletscherkunde und Glazialgeologie, 27/ 28, 63- 83.