A team of American scientists flew to the Mount Everest region Wednesday to study how pollution has impacted the Himalayan mountains and glaciers that are melting because of global warming.
The team, led by veteran climber John All of Western Washington University, plans to spend the next two months in the region collecting samples and studying the ice, snow and vegetation.
“We are looking at how climate change has affected vegetation, we are looking at how climate change has affected the snow and water availability for local people and how it is affecting local people,” All told the Associated Press.
They also plan to study the color and mineral content of the snow and ice on higher elevations of the mountains. Collecting plants and other vegetation on the foothills is another task, All said. They plan to share the samples, data and studies with local university and government agencies in Nepal.
They are going to use instruments to reflect light off the glaciers to determine how much dirt is on the surface.
“The more dirt there is, the more pollution accumulated on them and the more light absorption there is, and thus the larger impact on the glaciers,” he said.
In May, the team members will try to climb the 29,035-foot-high Everest, the world’s tallest mountain. A year after All’s research expedition to the Everest region in 2009, he climbed to the summit. A research trip in 2014 was cut short after the deaths of 16 Nepali Sherpa guides in an avalanche brought an early end to the climbing season.
In May 2014, All fell 72 feet into an open crack on a different mountain, breaking ribs and his right arm. He crawled out of the hole despite his injuries before being rescued the next morning.
He managed to use his ice ax to work his way out of the hole, but he had to move very slowly because of his broken bones. His teammates were in lower camps a two-day journey away.
“I want to try to make a difference, and I feel like I should do something good for the world,” All said.