Experts believe that 5,000 lakes in the Himalayas are at risk of flooding due to global warming
Researchers discover that 5,000 lakes in the Himalayas are at risk of flooding because glaciers are melting due to global warming and the weakening of their natural barriers
- Simulations of Himalayan lakes revealed the effects of global warming
- Experts discovered that melting glaciers will weaken the natural barriers of the lakes
- This will cause flooding down and destroyed villages at the bottom
Researchers warn that thousands of lakes in the Himalayas can cause massive floods as a result of global warming.
The team made simulations and discovered that the dikes of the lake could burst quickly, as the ice melts and slowly breaks down these barriers of loose rock and dirt.
The models showed that around 5,000 lakes in the Asian mountains are unstable due to dyke weakness, which could result in “glacier-lake eruption”.
The research was conducted by three researchers from the University of Potsdam, who performed 5.4 billion simulations based on multi-models made using topographic and satellite data.
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Experts warn that thousands of lakes in the Himalayas can cause massive floods as a result of global warming. The team made simulations and discovered that the dikes of the lake could burst quickly, as the ice melts and slowly breaks down these barriers of loose rock and dirt
They discovered that 5,000 lakes in the Himalayas are unstable due to weak dikes or moraines, which are nothing more than loose rock and dirt held together by glaciers.
If these barriers break, the lakes will cause massive downstream floods and can be devastating for those who live at the bottom of the mountain.
They not only determined that 5,000 lakes could run to the valley quickly, the researchers warn that these lakes also have the largest amount of water.
They also discovered that flooding risks due to glacier lake eruptions (GLOFs) are three times higher in the eastern parts of the Himalayas.
Following this shocking discovery, the three experts also noted that previous studies have shown that up to two-thirds of the Himalayan glaciers will disappear in the next decade, indicating that much water buildup in lakes is a serious threat to those who live downstream.
They discovered that 5,000 lakes in the Himalayas are unstable due to weak dikes or moraines, which are nothing more than loose rock and dirt held together by glaciers. If these barriers break, the lakes will cause massive downstream floods and can be devastating for those living at the bottom of the mountain
“Flood peaks of GLOFs usually dampen the upper reaches of the Himalayas, but rivals fed by monsoon can discharge into large rivers hundreds to thousands of kilometers downstream,” reads the newspaper published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
“Projections of future danger from meteorological floods must take into account the extreme outflows during eruptions of lakes, given the increasing trends in population, infrastructure and hydropower projects in the upper reaches of the Himalayas.”
A separate study conducted by a Columbia University team in June showed that the melting of glaciers in the Himalayas has doubled in the last two decades due to global warming.
HOW DO GLACIERS WORK THE WORLD?
As greenhouse gas emissions increase and the earth warms up, glaciers around the world are melting in Antarctica and Greenland.
These melting glaciers are contributing to rising sea levels, which in turn erodes the coastlines and puts cities from Shanghai to London at risk of flooding. Although the effect will clearly not be uniform around the world, an analysis of US properties in risk areas showed that by 2045, 300,000 homes could often be flooded.
In addition, melting glaciers will destroy ecosystems in cold regions while animals such as penguins and polar bears struggle to find food and shelter.
Due to rising temperatures, the area loses the equivalent of 3.2 million Olympic swimming pools with water every year.
Since the turn of the century, glaciers in the world’s highest mountain range have lost an average of 51 cm of ice every year – double between 1975 and 2000.
The study, based on satellite observations in India, China, Nepal and Bhutan for over 40 years, found that melting is consistent in time and space, and that rising temperatures are to blame.
Study leader Joshua Maurer, a Ph.D. student at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said, “This is the clearest picture of how fast Himalayan glaciers are melting during this time interval, and why.”
Although not specifically calculated in the study, he said that the glaciers in the region – described as the Third Pole – may have lost a quarter of their massive mass in the past four decades.
The effect of climate change on the Himalayas can threaten the water supply of hundreds of millions of people downstream in Asia.