2023
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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A comprehensive and version-controlled database of glacial lake outburst floods in High Mountain Asia

  • Finu Shrestha
  • Jakob F. Steiner
  • Reeju Shrestha
  • Yathartha Dhungel
  • Sharad P. Joshi
  • Sam Inglis
  • Arshad Ashraf
  • Sher Wali
  • Khwaja M. Walizada
  • Taigang Zhang
  • Summary

Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) have been intensely investigated in High Mountain Asia (HMA) in recent years and are the most well-known hazard associated with the cryosphere. As glaciers recede and surrounding slopes become increasingly unstable, such events are expected to increase, although current evidence for an increase in events is ambiguous. Many studies have investigated individual events, and while several regional inventories exist, they either do not cover all types of GLOF or are geographically constrained. Further, downstream impacts are rarely discussed. Previous inventories have relied on academic sources and have not been combined with existing inventories of glaciers and lakes. In this study, we present the first comprehensive inventory of GLOFs in HMA, including details on the time of their occurrence, processes of lake formation and drainage involved, and downstream impacts. We document 697 individual GLOFs that occurred between 1833 and 2022. Of these, 23 % were recurring events from just three ephemeral ice-dammed lakes. In combination, the documented events resulted in 6906 fatalities of which 906 can be attributed to 24 individual GLOF events, which is 3 times higher than a previous assessment for the region. The integration of previous inventories of glaciers and lakes within this database will inform future assessments of potential drivers of GLOFs, allowing more robust projections to be developed. The database and future, updated versions are traceable and version-controlled and can be directly incorporated into further analysis. 

The database is available at https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.7271187 

  • Published in:
    Earth System Science Data, 15(9)
  • DOI:
    10.5194/essd-15-3941-2023
  • Pages:
    3941–3961
  • Language:
    English
  • Published Year:
    2023
  • External Link:
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