Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2023-125
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2023-125
10 Oct 2023
 | 10 Oct 2023
Status: a revised version of this preprint was accepted for the journal NHESS and is expected to appear here in due course.

A glacial lake outburst flood hazard assessment for the Phochhu River Basin, Bhutan

Tandin Wangchuk and Ryota Tsubaki

Abstract. The melting of glaciers has led to an unprecedented increase in the number and size of glacial lakes, particularly in the Himalayan region. A Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) is a natural hazard in which water from a glacial or glacier-fed lake is swiftly discharged. GLOFs can significantly harm life, infrastructure, and settlements located downstream, and can cause considerable ecological, economic, and social impacts. Based on a dam breach model, BREACH, and a hydrodynamic model, HEC-RAS, we examined the potential consequences of a GLOF originating from the Thorthomi glacial lake, located within the Phochhu River Basin, one of Bhutan’s largest and rapidly expanding glacial lakes. Our analysis revealed that, following a breach, the Thorthomi glacial lake will likely generate a peak flow of 16,360 m3 s−1 within four hours. Such discharge could potentially cause considerable damage, with an estimated 245 hectares of agricultural land and over 1,277 buildings at risk for inundation. Our results emphasize an urgent need for understanding and preparing for the potential consequences of a GLOF from Thorthomi Lake in order to mitigate ecological, economic, and social impacts on downstream areas. Our findings provide valuable insights for policymakers and stakeholders involved in disaster management and preparedness.

Publisher's note: Copernicus Publications remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims made in the text, published maps, institutional affiliations, or any other geographical representation in this preprint. The responsibility to include appropriate place names lies with the authors.
Tandin Wangchuk and Ryota Tsubaki

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-125', Stefan Ram, 19 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Ryota Tsubaki, 28 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2023-125', Rayees Ahmed, 08 Dec 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Ryota Tsubaki, 06 Jan 2024
  • AC3: 'Comment on nhess-2023-125', Ryota Tsubaki, 23 Jan 2024

Status: closed

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on nhess-2023-125', Stefan Ram, 19 Nov 2023
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Ryota Tsubaki, 28 Nov 2023
  • RC2: 'Comment on nhess-2023-125', Rayees Ahmed, 08 Dec 2023
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Ryota Tsubaki, 06 Jan 2024
  • AC3: 'Comment on nhess-2023-125', Ryota Tsubaki, 23 Jan 2024
Tandin Wangchuk and Ryota Tsubaki
Tandin Wangchuk and Ryota Tsubaki

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Short summary
A Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) is a natural hazard in which water from a glacier-fed lake is swiftly discharged, and causes serious harm to life, infrastructure, and communities. We used numerical models to predict the potential consequences of a GLOF from the Thorthomi glacial lake in Bhutan. We found that If the GLOF occurs, the lake could release massive flood water within four hours, posing a considerable risk. Study findings help to mitigate the impacts of future GLOF.
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