Diagram showing various glacial lake outburst flood process chains
Various glacial lake outburst flood process chains, including present and future avalanches with different ice-rock ratios, as well as lake-lowering scenarios. Credit: Sattar et al. [2023], Figure 2
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface

Glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) occur when a glacial lake suddenly releases a large amount of water. They can be triggered by various events such as ice avalanches, hillslope landslides, extreme rainfall, earthquakes, or a combination of multiple factors.

GLOFs in high mountain areas are difficult to predict and often pose severe downstream societal threats including infrastructure damage and human losses. In a rapidly warming climate, the risks of GLOFs have increased over the past few decades in response to intensified glacier melt and related lake expansion, more frequent heavy rainfalls, as well as increased hillslope landslides and societal exposures. In such contexts, GLOF mitigation is increasingly important to reduce flood risk and protect the vulnerable and often poor mountain communities, but it remains unclear for the effectiveness of various possible mitigation strategies.

Sattar et al. [2023] present a comprehensive assessment of current and future GLOF hazards for the Gepang Gath Lake in the Himalaya, considering permafrost degradation and related rock and ice avalanches cascading into the lake. The study also evaluates 18 scenarios of GLOF process chains, including engineered lake lowering, and demonstrates the efficiency of lake lowering as an effective option for GLOF mitigation. It is one of the first comprehensive studies on GLOF process chain modeling efforts in the Himalaya region. The findings have important implications for GLOF mitigation actions, and the holistic framework can be extended to other glacial lakes for robust GLOF hazard and risk assessment.

Citation: Sattar, A., Allen, S., Mergili, M., Haeberli, W., Frey, H., Kulkarni, A. V., et al. (2023). Modeling potential glacial lake outburst flood process chains and effects from artificial lake-level lowering at Gepang Gath Lake, Indian Himalaya. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 128, e2022JF006826. https://doi.org/10.1029/2022JF006826

—Dongfeng Li, Associate Editor, JGR: Earth Surface

Text © 2023. The authors. CC BY-NC-ND 3.0
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