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Glacier research, Valle Anzasca, Italian Alps - 2009Glacier Research

An expedition team from Aberystwyth University will travel to the Italian Alps to assess glacier hazards in May 2009.  The group of researchers intends to investigate recent ‘surging’ behaviour and hazard development on the Belvedere Glacier, a humid-temperate, heavily debris-covered glacier located in the Valle Anzasca. Their studies will look into how glacier recession and the subsequent development of glacier-related hazards have both greatly accelerated the risk of glacial lake outburst floods which have been widely reported in regions including the Karakoram and Nepal Himalaya.

Team leader Matt Westoby emphasised the importance of the research stating “studies of the dynamics and factors that influence melting on debris-covered glaciers are rare, and so any data gathered are invaluable since the contribution to global sea level rise from the melting of these high-mountain ice masses is deemed to be significant (due to their location, such glaciers will experience some of the most pronounced warming and subsequent recession in the face of future climate change) and currently overlooked by the majority of global climate change models.

The project has been part-funded with a grant of 1,000 from the Royal Geographical Society’s Jeremy Willson Award, funded by the JWCT.

The data gathered during the expedition will form the basis of two Masters theses (for Matt and team member Alex Neen) and a complementary project for fellow team member John Balfour, who has recently been accepted to read for an MSc Quaternary Science at Royal Holloway. The team departs for Macugnaga in June 2009. Matt added that he would like to “thank the Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust and the Willson family for [their] generous support towards our fieldwork activities.


April 2010

"Here are the seminars given by myself [Matt Westoby] and Alex. Also attached is the departmental newsletter piece."

December 2009

Matt Westoby, expedition team member, sent the following message:

“Please find attached the M.Sc. theses for Matthew Westoby and Alex Neen. These reports form the two major research outputs from the [Belvedere Glacier expedition]. In addition to the production of these theses, seminars have been given by individual members of the research team within the Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences, Aberystwyth University. A short piece in the departmental quarterly newsletter about our summer expedition will also be published within the month. The research by John Balfour is ongoing. We would like to once again take this opportunity to thank the RGS-IBG and the trustees of the Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust for their kind support.”

August 2009

“I attempted to contact the [JWCT] a month or two ago to express our sincere gratitude for the funding that was kindly allocated to support our fieldwork on Belvedere Glacier in the Italian Alps. The team has since returned following a successful fieldwork campaign and is now knuckling down to process the data and get Masters dissertations and reports written! I have attached our preliminary report which has been submitted to the RGS, along with a photograph of John and Alex setting up the weather station on the glacier.”

The Jeremy Willson Charitable Trust
a charity registered in England and Wales. No. 1114871