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Home / News / In Nepal, scientists at the bedside of the glaciers

In Nepal, scientists at the bedside of the glaciers

Tom J. Battin

Since 2018, NOMIS researcher Tom Battin and the Vanishing Glaciers team have been traveling to the highest peaks around the world. On an expedition to the Himalayas, Fanny Arlandis and Sophie Rodriguez of Le Figaro Magazine followed Battin and four colleagues in search of the oldest life form on earth: microbes. And it is urgent: global warming is accelerating the melting of the ice and a whole unknown biodiversity is disappearing.

Their article, “Au Népal, les scientifiques au chevet des glaciers” (“In Nepal, scientists at the bedside of the glaciers”) appeared in the Nov. 26, 2021, edition of Le Figaro (in French). A translated excerpt follows:

In Ecuador, Norway, Russia or Nepal, they survey the mountains to collect microbes from streams at the base of glaciers

Sometimes the silence is deafening. In the Nepalese valley of Langtang, the incessant wind hammers the eardrums. Faded garlands of colored triangles clatter in front of doors hastily sealed with with wooden boards. Further on, we cross a village buried under the stones by the 2015 earthquake. In the spring of 2021, marked by the health crisis, few people still live here, and all the foreigners deserted this region, north of Kathmandu, months ago. All of them, with the exception of a group of five scientists from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) and their 22 porters, loaded with 714 kilos of material. They are surveying these mountains to collect microbes from streams at the base of the glaciers.

Read the Le Figaro article (in French): “Au Népal, les scientifiques au chevet des glaciers”
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Full professor of environmental sciences, School of Architecture, Civil and Environmental Engineering
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