• Non-ICIMOD publication


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The growth and emergence of potentially dangerous glacier lakes in Astore Basin, Western Himalaya during 1993–2021

  • Saddique Akbar
  • Junbo Wang
  • Atta Ullah
  • Yasir Latif
  • Sher Muhammad
  • Summary

The recent retreat of glaciers in High Mountain Asia is a major issue for downstream communities. Similarly, glaciers in the Astore Basin are melting, causing glacial lakes to expand faster, new lakes to form, and increasing the risk of glacial lakes outburst floods (GLOFs). The present study uses Landsat data from 1993 to 2021 to explore seasonal and decadal changes in glacier lakes, which are validated using an in situ differential Global Positioning System (dGPS). During the ablation period (June - October) of 2021, we observed a five-fold increase (18 to 100) in the number of glacier lakes, as well as a six-fold increase (0.62 to 3.86 km2) in lakes larger than 0.01 km2. Over the last decade, from 2011 to 2020, the number of potentially dangerous glacial lakes (PDGLs) has doubled. GLOF risk must be reduced through continual monitoring of these lakes. Prioritizing the deployment of GLOF monitoring and early warning systems, as well as sustainable water management practices, is critical for mitigation and adaptation measures in mountainous regions.