Articles | Volume 11, issue 5
Research article
18 May 2011
Research article |  | 18 May 2011

Regional-scale analysis of lake outburst hazards in the southwestern Pamir, Tajikistan, based on remote sensing and GIS

M. Mergili and J. F. Schneider

Abstract. This paper presents an analysis of the hazards emanating from the sudden drainage of alpine lakes in South-Western Tajik Pamir. In the last 40 yr, several new lakes have formed in the front of retreating glacier tongues, and existing lakes have grown. Other lakes are dammed by landslide deposits or older moraines. In 2002, sudden drainage of a glacial lake in the area triggered a catastrophic debris flow. Building on existing approaches, a rating scheme was devised allowing quick, regional-scale identification of potentially hazardous lakes and possible impact areas. This approach relies on GIS, remote sensing and empirical modelling, largely based on medium-resolution international datasets. Out of the 428 lakes mapped in the area, 6 were rated very hazardous and 34 hazardous. This classification was used for the selection of lakes requiring in-depth investigation. Selected cases are presented and discussed in order to understand the potentials and limitations of the approach used. Such an understanding is essential for the appropriate application of the methodology for risk mitigation purposes.

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