Journal cover Journal topic
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 3455-3475, 2016
http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/20/3455/2016/
doi:10.5194/hess-20-3455-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
31 Aug 2016
A new remote hazard and risk assessment framework for glacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya
David R. Rounce1, Daene C. McKinney1, Jonathan M. Lala1, Alton C. Byers2, and C. Scott Watson3 1Center for Research in Water Resources, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA
2Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO, USA
3School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
Abstract. Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) pose a significant threat to downstream communities and infrastructure due to their potential to rapidly unleash stored lake water. The most common triggers of these GLOFs are mass movement entering the lake and/or the self-destruction of the terminal moraine due to hydrostatic pressures or a buried ice core. This study initially uses previous qualitative and quantitative assessments to understand the hazards associated with eight glacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya that are widely considered to be highly dangerous. The previous assessments yield conflicting classifications with respect to each glacial lake, which spurred the development of a new holistic, reproducible, and objective approach based solely on remotely sensed data. This remote hazard assessment analyzes mass movement entering the lake, the stability of the moraine, and lake growth in conjunction with a geometric GLOF to determine the downstream impacts such that the present and future risk associated with each glacial lake may be quantified. The new approach is developed within a hazard, risk, and management action framework with the aim that this remote assessment may guide future field campaigns, modeling efforts, and ultimately risk-mitigation strategies. The remote assessment was found to provide valuable information regarding the hazards faced by each glacial lake and results were discussed within the context of the current state of knowledge to help guide future efforts.

Citation: Rounce, D. R., McKinney, D. C., Lala, J. M., Byers, A. C., and Watson, C. S.: A new remote hazard and risk assessment framework for glacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya, Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 3455-3475, doi:10.5194/hess-20-3455-2016, 2016.
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Short summary
Glacial lake outburst floods pose a significant threat to downstream communities and infrastructure as they rapidly unleash stored lake water. Nepal is home to many potentially dangerous glacial lakes, yet a holistic understanding of the hazards faced by these lakes is lacking. This study develops a framework using remotely sensed data to investigate the hazards and risks associated with each glacial lake and discusses how this assessment may help inform future management actions.
Glacial lake outburst floods pose a significant threat to downstream communities and...
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