On the glacier surface, our research questions for temperate monsoonal debris-covered glaciers were initiated with the basic questions of:
What are the physical habitat and chemical characteristics of cryoconite holes/supraglacial pools?
What macroinvertebrates and bacterial communities occur within cryoconite holes/supraglacial pools?
What physical habitat and chemical variables best predict macroinvertebrate and microbial occurrence, abundance, and richness within supraglacial pools?
These questions are setting a foundation of debris-covered glacier ecology in cryoconite holes/supraglacial pools and for our research questions aimed at understanding how cryoconite holes/supraglacial pools develop physically, chemically, and biologically over time on debris-covered glaciers. We will connect physicochemical changes with microbial and invertebrate communities to understand the interactions between the environment and succession of biological community structures throughout the ablation season. With time lapse camera imagery and temporal biological sampling, we aim to present our long-term observations to help understand how climate change is impacting these types of valley glaciers in the greater Himalayas and around the world. As well, debris-covered glaciers are increasing at the greatest rate around the world due to climate warming processes so we aim to gain insight into what might happen to clean-surface valley glaciers around the world.
We also aim to:
1) compare supraglacial pools on debris-covered glaciers with cryoconite holes on clean surface glaciers within the same circum-Himalayan region and;
2) continue to develop our understanding of environmental relationships of supraglacial, periglacial, and proglacial meltwater habitats with autotrophic and heterotrophic community structures on a continuum from glacier headwater source to downstream melt environments. Below find our initial physical results of cryoconite holes/supraglacial pools on the Hailuogou Glacier with cryoconite hole studies conducted around the world.