Notes from the Field: Geologic and Climate Change Impacts on Nepal’s Glaciers

Monday, March 11, 2019
5 - 6 p.m.
Turchin Center Lecture Hall, Room 1102

Alton C. Byers, Ph.D. is a mountain geographer, conservationist and mountaineer specializing in applied research, high altitude ecosystems, climate change, glacier hazards and integrated conservation and development programs. His presentation, as part of the kick-off of the International Mountain Studies Symposium on March 12, will review the results of recent research regarding the impacts of three geologic and climate change-related events upon Nepal’s glaciers and glacial lakes, including:

    (a) the April 25, 2015 earthquake and aftershock,
    (b) englacial conduit floods from the Lhotse and Khumbu glaciers and
    (c) a rockfall-induced glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in the Barun valley in April, 2017.

Collectively, his study highlights the importance of conducting integrated field studies of recent catastrophic events as soon as possible after they occur, in order to best understand the complexity of their triggering mechanisms, resultant impacts and risk reduction management options.

Byers received his Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1987, focusing on historical and contemporary landscape change in the Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park of Nepal. Between 1990 and 2015, he worked for The Mountain Institute (TMI) in a range of capacities that included Environmental Advisor, Co-Manager of the Makalu-Barun National Park (Nepal), Founder/Director of Andean Programs, Director of Appalachian Programs and Founder/Director of Research and Exploration Programs.

In 2015 he joined the Institute for Arctic and Alpine Research (INSTAAR) at the University of Colorado at Boulder as Senior Research Associate and Faculty. He currently spends between three and six months each year conducting field work in remote mountain regions of Nepal, dividing his remaining time between writing and organic gardening at his home in the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia.

The International Mountain Studies Symposium is hosting mountain studies scholars from Austria, France, Scotland, Switzerland and Wales on Appalachian’s campus with faculty and students for a one-day scholarly exchange of research about mountains around the world. The symposium will be held on the 4th floor of Plemmons Student Union from 8:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. with an evening reading, musical performance and square dance from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. The symposium is free and open to the public. For a full schedule of events, visit:


About the Center for Appalachian Studies
The Center for Appalachian Studies promotes public programs, community collaboration, civic engagement and scholarship on the Appalachian region. The center is committed to building healthy communities and deepening knowledge of Appalachia’s past, present and future through community-based research and engagement. Learn more at

About the College of Arts and Sciences
The College of Arts and Sciences is home to 16 academic departments, one stand-alone academic program, two centers and one residential college. These units span the humanities and the social, mathematical and natural sciences. The College of Arts and Sciences aims to develop a distinctive identity built upon our university's strengths, traditions and unique location. The college’s values lie not only in service to the university and local community, but through inspiring, training, educating and sustaining the development of its students as global citizens. There are approximately 6,100 student majors in the college. As the college is also largely responsible for implementing Appalachian's general education curriculum, it is heavily involved in the education of all students at the university, including those pursuing majors in other colleges. Learn more at

About the Office of International Education and Development
The OIED is responsible for spearheading the internationalization efforts at Appalachian. The internationalization mission of Appalachian is to develop awareness, knowledge, appreciation and respect of cultural differences in both domestic and international contexts in its students, faculty, staff and the surrounding communities. The university is also dedicated to creating a campus environment that builds the theoretical and practical skills needed to interact effectively in a global society. Learn more at

Alton C. Byers, Ph.D. is a mountain geographer, conservationist and mountaineer specializing in applied research, high altitude ecosystems, climate change, glacier hazards and integrated conservation and development programs. Photo submitted.
Published: Mar 1, 2019 9:01am