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The Status of Glacial Lakes in the Hindu Kush Himalaya - ICIMOD Research Report 2018/1

  • Maharjan, S. B.
  • Mool, P. K.
  • Lizong, W.
  • Xiao, G.
  • Shrestha, F.
  • Shrestha, R. B.
  • Khanal, N. R.
  • Bajracharya, S. R.
  • Joshi, S.
  • Shai, S.
  • Baral, P.
  • Summary

This report provides comprehensive information about the glacial lakes of five major river basins of the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) — Amu Darya, Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra, and Irrawaddy, including Mansarovar Interior Basin — representing the year 2005, which helps to fill the data gap of glacial lakes information in the region. This is the first comprehensive knowledge upon the distribution of glacial lakes for the HKH providing baseline data for further investigation of glacial lakes, GLOF hazards and risk assessment, and mitigation measures.


This inventory of glacial lakes was prepared with consistent, homogeneous, much narrower temporal range and single source data with a semi-automatic method. For the consistency of glacier and glacial lakes data, the same time satellite images were used to delineate both glaciers and glacial lakes. The glacier inventory data and report was published in 2011. The glacial lake boundaries were delineated using an automatic method on Landsat images from the year 2005±2 years. The automatic method to delineate the glacial lake boundaries by defining the threshold condition of band ratio images made the process of mapping and monitoring of glacial lakes faster. It is challenging to apply the method throughout the region as it is difficult to get good quality of images with the least amount of snow cover, cloud cover, and shadow portion due to inconsistent and analogous climatic conditions in the region. So some of the lakes were manually digitized by validating on high resolution images in Google Earth as well as comparing with previous inventory data wherever available. This report also provides the modified classification schemes of glacial lakes from previous reports to make it consistent throughout the region. This inventory includes all the lakes in front of and on or beside a glacier or in the lowland formed by paleo-glaciation.

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  • Publisher Name:
    International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD)
  • Publisher Place:
    Kathmandu, Nepal