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Papua expedition to record death of glaciers

BY PETER

LATER THIS year an Australian expedition will measure the remaining ice fields of Puncak Jaya in the Sudirman Range of the Indonesian province of Papua.

Puncak Jaya may be better known to readers as the Carstensz Toppen; in the Amungkal language of the area it’s known as Nemangkawi.

At 4,884 metres, it is the highest mountain in Indonesia, on the island of New Guinea and in Oceania. It is also the highest point between the Himalayas and the Andes.

Research presented from satellite imagery in 2004 provided dramatic evidence that the glaciers of Puncak Jaya are about to disappear forever.

The imagery indicated that between 2000-02, there had been losses of up to 20 percent in the mass of three glaciers. And sometime between 1994 and 2000, the Meren Glacier had disappeared altogether.

The Australian expedition will measure the ice fields in this area and create a photographic record of the remaining glaciers on and around Puncak Jaya.

“We hope to complete the second ascent of the south face of Puncak Mandala in the Star Mountains (including first female ascent) to confirm the disappearance of the icecap there,” says expedition leader Ricky Munday.

“This photographic record will be analysed by researchers from the World Glacier Monitoring Service, Indiana University and Texas A&M University.

“We also hope to collect water samples throughout the expedition to support research examining tropical palaeoclimatology in the western Equatorial Pacific, which will hopefully reduce uncertainty over the sensitivity of the tropical troposphere to various forcings, which is a first-order uncertainty in global climate model predictions of the greenhouse effect.”

You can catch up with more information about the expedition, including updates, here.

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