Glacial Lakes of the Hinku and Hongu Valleys, Makalu Barun National Park and Buffer Zone, Nepal (2013)

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In recent decades, many of the larger glaciers in the Himalaya and Andes that have experienced increased melting have become glacial lakes. Some of these lakes present a risk of glacial lake outburst floods that can unleash stored lake water and eroded debris, often causing enormous devastation downstream. Many of these new glacial lakes have formed in the Mt. Everest and Makalu Barun National Parks of Nepal, nine of which in the remote Hinku and Hongu valleys have been designated as “potentially dangerous� based on remote sensing analyses. Until recently, however, relatively little ground-based information was available for these lakes, including their physical characteristics, danger level, prospective downstream impacts in the event of an outburst, and mitigation methods appropriate and applicable to remote regions within the Nepal Himalaya. This paper describes three separate, interdisciplinary expeditions to the Hinku and Hongu valleys between 2009 and 2012 that were designed to close these information gaps. Each expedition combined remote sensing with field-based analyses, repeat photography, interviews with local people, bathymetric surveys, ground penetrating radar, and flood modeling. Eight of the “potentially dangerous� lakes surveyed were found to be stable, and one that had escaped mention in previous studies (L464) was found to contain a high risk of an outburst flood. In the data-deficient high mountain world, we suggest that the combined use of sophisticated remote sensing and modeling technologies with traditional, field-based methods can provide the most thorough understanding of glacial lakes possible at this time, including the actual risks that they pose as well as the most appropriate and community-based risk reduction strategies.
Year: 2013
Language: English
In: Natural Hazards, 69 (1): 115-139 p.

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 Record created 2019-08-26, last modified 2019-08-26