Richard Armstrong

Richard Armstrong

Senior Research Scientist
Associate Director, Cryospheric and Polar Processes Division, CIRES
Associate Professor, Adjunct, Department of Geography, University of Colorado, Boulder

Office: RL-2, #214
Phone: 303-492-1828
Web site »

Research Interests

Armstrong's research interests include: remote sensing of snow, ice, and frozen ground, snow cover and glacier mass extent as indicators of climate change, properties of avalanche snow, and data set and cryospheric product development.

Current Research: The Contribution to High Asia Runoff from Ice and Snow (CHARIS) project

figure 1

On the Kara Batkak glacier wiht the Institute of Water Problems and Hydropower, Kyrgyzstan, September 2012. From left to right: Vladimir Shatravin (director, Glaciology Lab), Betsy Armstrong (communications consultant), Marina Lischenko (interpreter), Richard Armstrong (CHARIS principal investigator), and Bakyt Ermenbayev (director, Tien Shan High Mountain Research Center). Photo credit: Janat Abdrayev/Institute of Water Problems and Hydropower, Kyrgyzstan.

figure 2

Major river systems, mountain ranges, and glacier cover across High Asia.

The fundamental objective of the CHARIS project is to develop a thorough and systematic assessment of the individual contribution of seasonal snow and glacier ice to the water resources originating across the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, Pamir, and Tien Shan mountain ranges, referred to here as High Asia. The headwaters of the Brahmaputra, Ganges, Indus, Syr Darya, and Amu Darya rivers are all located in High Asia. While the scientific community generally accepts that the melting of glacier ice and seasonal snow produces a significant component of the High Asian water resources, the actual water volume available from these two individual sources across this region remains generally unknown. Realistic estimates of the future availability and vulnerability of the region’s water resources are not possible until we achieve a better understanding of the current hydrologic regime. The improved understanding of these regional water resources is a cross-boundary exercise, and the CHARIS project will greatly facilitate the international cooperation required for successful water-resource management across High Asia. The development of the necessary research collaboration has been very successful during the previous 12 months, with formal agreements being finalized between the University of Colorado Boulder and key research institutions located in Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.
To accomplish project research objectives, my group uses a suite of satellite remotesensing, reanalysis, and ground-based data (provided by Asian project partners), along with gridded maps of snow and glacier area/elevation, as input to spatially distributed temperature-index and energy-balance melt models. See for details. A fundamental capacity-building exercise took place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, from May 13 to 17, 2013. During this exercise, CU-Boulder CHARIS staff conducted short courses on the topics of mountain hydrology, glacier mass balance, mapping of snow and glacier cover, and isotopic and geochemical tracers. Representatives from all partner organizations attended the short courses and provided summaries of their proposed collaborative field research for the 2013 summer. CHARIS partners will again convene in Nepal in November 2013 to present their most recent research results.

Publications Click here for a complete list of published works »