Articles | Volume 8, issue 6
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 8, 1329–1340, 2008
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 8, 1329–1340, 2008

  04 Dec 2008

04 Dec 2008

Identification of glacier motion and potentially dangerous glacial lakes in the Mt. Everest region/Nepal using spaceborne imagery

T. Bolch1,4, M. F. Buchroithner1, J. Peters1, M. Baessler2, and S. Bajracharya3 T. Bolch et al.
  • 1Institut für Kartographie, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
  • 2Institut für Planetare Geodäsie, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
  • 3International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal
  • 4Geography Program, University of Northern British Columbia, BC, Canada

Abstract. Failures of glacial lake dams can cause outburst floods and represents a serious hazard. The potential danger of outburst floods depends on various factors like the lake's area and volume, glacier change, morphometry of the glacier and its surrounding moraines and valley, and glacier velocity. Remote sensing offers an efficient tool for displacement calculations and risk assessment of the identification of potentially dangerous glacial lakes (PDGLs) and is especially helpful for remote mountainous areas. Not all important parameters can, however, be obtained using spaceborne imagery. Additional interpretation by an expert is required. ASTER data has a suitable accuracy to calculate surface velocity. Ikonos data offers more detail but requires more effort for rectification. All investigated debris-covered glacier tongues show areas with no or very slow movement rates. From 1962 to 2003 the number and area of glacial lakes increased, dominated by the occurrence and almost linear areal expansion of the moraine-dammed lakes, like the Imja Lake. Although the Imja Lake will probably still grow in the near future, the risk of an outburst flood (GLOF) is considered not higher than for other glacial lakes in the area. Potentially dangerous lakes and areas of lake development are identified. There is a high probability of further lake development at Khumbu Glacier, but a low one at Lhotse Glacier.