The state of six dangerous glacial lakes in the Nepalese Himalaya

  • Status of the existing six potentially dangerous glacial lakes were examined
  • Imja Tsho, Barun Tsho, and Lumding Tsho show significant expansion
  • High dangerous lakes should be prioritized for appropriate mitigation
Abstract

Glaciers in the Himalaya are increasingly retreating and thinning due to climate change. This process is the primary cause of glacial lakes expansion and has increased the possibilities of the glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) that have been responsible for heavy loss of life and damage to downstream infrastructures. This study examines the status of the existing potentially dangerous glacial lakes in the Nepalese Himalaya such as Imja Tsho, Tsho Rolpa, Thulagi, Chamlang South, Barun Tsho and Lumding Tsho; which were more susceptible to GLOF after the devastating earthquake in 2015. We examined the evolution and decadal expansion rate of lakes from 1987 to 2016 using Landsat images. The results show significant expansion of Imja Tsho, Barun Tsho, and Lumding Tsho at the rates of 42.1%, 46.8% and 32.9 % respectively, during 2006‒2016; while other glacial lakes (i.e. Chamlang South, Barun Tsho and Lumding Tsho) are relatively stable. Although the current status of glacial lakes may be stable in term of burst risk, high expanding lakes must be prioritized for detail studies. Continuous model-based monitoring and risk assessment, mitigation measures and disaster management strategies are necessary for reducing the impact of GLOFs.

 

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