By the outburst of Glacial Lakes, there would be about 3 million Indians that would be impacted; This is based on a New Study Published in Nature Communication officially on February 8 2023.
The New study also highlighted that globally they are about 90 Countries live in 1089 basins containing glacial lakes; however, what is more, dampening the majority of a global estimated population of 9.3 million (almost half the people of New York) (62 %) are in the high altitudinal mountains of Asia, also known as high mountain Asia (HMA).
In this report, what also was stated? The majority of the globally exposed population, amounting to 9.3 million (62 per cent), is located in the region of high mountain Asia (HMA) (https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/climate-change/himalayan-plunder-3-million-indians-live-in-areas-that-can-be-swept-by-glacial-lake-floods-says-study-87593).
These four highly populous countries accounted for 50 % of the globally exposed population: India, Pakistan, China and Peru.
“Our work does not just focus on the size or number of glacier lakes – no disaster is natural – it is the presence of people, especially vulnerable people, in the landscape that causes a disaster,” said Stuart Dunning, a physical geographer at Britain’s Newcastle University, and a co-author of the study ( https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/glacial-lake-floods-threaten-communities-in-asia-south-america/article66488759.ece)
However, the study of climate change conducted has some alarming statistics. Collectively, the world’s glaciers lost about 332 gigatons of Ice a year between 2006 and 2016, And even worse is the number. In 2021, more than 100 people were killed in India by floods.
What are Glacial Lakes?
Glacial Lake is a body of water that originates from a glacier; it forms at the foot of the glacier but can also form on and under it. Glacier lakes are formed when glaciers erode from the surface before melting and filing the resulting depression.
Formation of a Glacier Lakes and Glacial Lake Outbursts
Glacier lakes are formed when they erode the terrain under them, leaving depressions and grooves on the land; when they churn up rock and soil, they etch ridges of debris known as moraines. At the same time, a Glacial outburst of water is when meltwater is released from a moraine or a dam failure.
As we can also witness, most glaciers are sensitive to climate change. From 1990 to 2018, satellite images reveal a rise in glacial lakes by 53 per cent. The fastest-growing lakes are in Scandinavia, Iceland, and Russia, but their volume is relatively small compared to other regions.
Glacial lakes involve three or more features, a sudden water release. They tend to have rapid events lasting for hours. They result in sizeable downstream river charges.
Glacial outbursts have threatened major hydroelectric projects such as the billion-dollar projects at the Karakoram highway and the Trans Alaska pipelines.
Glacial Lake outbursts Flood’s relative effect (GLOFs)
GLOFs are abrupt bursts of meltwater and sediments sometimes blocked by features such as Moraines or Glacial Ice.
Glacial lake outburst floods are projected to worsen in a warming climate.
Collectively, the world’s glaciers lost about 332 gigatons of Ice a year between 2006 and 2016. Since 1990, the number and volume of glacial lakes worldwide have increased by about 50%.
In the high mountains of Asia, some 9 million people live near more than 2,000 glacial lakes. In 2021, over 100 people were killed in India in an outburst of Flood in its northern mountains. (Glacial Lake Floods Threaten Communities in Asia, South America – The Hindu, n.d.)
According to the study, from 1990-2015, the glacier coverage of the Himalayas shrank by 11% at the same period, and Himalayan Glacial lakes increased by 9% and 14% in number.
(According to Reuters, one of the most studied glaciers, the Chhota Shigri, lost three times as much mass in 2022 compared with its 2002 to 2022 yearly average, which was evident in the timelapse video made by me on the summer months between 2021 and 2022, Video Source: Sentinel Hub EO Browser)
(Another evidence of declining snow cover in the Chhota Shigri through the time-lapse of the year 2021-22, Out here in Blue is the snowfall measurement through NDSI (Normalized difference snowfall Index ), Source of the Video: Sentinel Hub EO Browser)
After suffering blistering temperatures and near the end of the year, many scientists headed into Chhota Shigri Glacial Landmass; many people saw the impacts visible “The impacts are already visible as the glacier is thinning and retreating,” said Farooq Azam, a glaciologist at the Indian Institute of Technology Indore who monitors Chhota Shigri. This will be “impactful to downstream water availability shortly”, as stated by Mr Azam (Glacial Lake Floods Threaten Communities in Asia, South America – The Hindu, n.d.)