KATHMANDU, Aug 2: Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) has warned that six glacial lakes in the high Himalayas are at serious risk of an outburst.
Tsho Rolpa of Dolakha, one of the biggest glacial lakes in the country, is on the verge of a rupture. Imja, West Chambling and Lumdi glacier of Solukhumbu district, Thulagi of Manang district and Lower Barun of Sankhuwasabha district are also said to be at a high risk of an outburst.
The flooding that will result from Imja glacial lake outburst might affect around 12,000 people in the human settlements below the lake, government technicians estimate.
Technicians at DHM further say that an eruption in the five glacial lakes may affect hundreds of people in different districts across the Himalayan region.
Nepal's temperature increases 0.04-0.06 degree Celsius annually, according to studies. As the climate is becoming warmer, glaciers are melting and forming glacial lakes, with water occasionally rising to threatening levels. There are many examples in the country in which loss of life and property have occurred due to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
According to Govinda Acharya, a technical advisor of CFGORRP at DHM, Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project (CFGORRP) has been working to mitigate the risks posed by possible outbursts. Acharya said the program is being jointly implemented by the UNDP and the DHM.
“The mitigation measures being undertaken around Tsho Rolpa and Imja glacial lakes are in the final stages. But no steps have been taken to reduce the impact around four other glacial lakes,” said Acharya, technical advisor of CFGORRP at DHM.
“Having an early warning system, draining the lakes and building capacity of locals and other stakeholders are some of the ways to reduce risks,” he added.
According to a study by International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development there were about 2,135 glacial lakes in Nepal in 2001. By 2009, only 1,466 glacial lakes were noticed. This is a decrease by 33 % in a decade.
Among the remaining glacial lakes, 21 are said to pose potential risks and six are considered to be at a high risk of an outburst.