Changes in Glacial Lakes and Glaciers of Post-1986 in the Poiqu River Basin, Nyalam, Xizang (Tibet) (2007)

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Glacial lakes and glaciers are sensitive indicators of recent climate change. In the Poiqu River basin of southern Tibet, 60–100 km NW of Mt. Everest, Landsat imagery defines post-1986 changes in the size and distribution of both glacial lakes and glaciers. Total area of glaciers in the 229-km2 drainage area has decreased by 20%. The number of glacial lakes with areas in excess of 0.020 km2 has increased by 11%, and the total area of glacial lakes has increased by 47%. The areas of typical large glacial lakes of the area (Galongco, Gangxico, and Cirenmaco) have increased by 104, 118, and 156%, respectively, and these increases are confirmed by field investigations. Comparing the 1986 data, the area of glaciers in the basin headwaters has decreased by 46.18 km2 to a present total area of 183.12 km2, an annual rate of change of 3.30 km2/year. Trends indicate that the total area of glaciers will continue to decrease and that both the numbers and areas of glacial lakes will continue to increase. Accompanying these trends will be an increased risk of debris flows, formed by entrainment of sediment in glacial-outburst floods and in surges from both failure and avalanche- and landslide-induced overtopping of moraine dams. Based on both the local and world-wide history of catastrophes from flows of these origins, disaster mitigation must be planned and appropriate engineering countermeasures put in place as soon as possible.
Year: 2007
Language: English
In: Geomorphology, 88 (3–4): 298-311 p.

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 Record created 2013-02-11, last modified 2014-03-19