top of page

Global Survey Using NASA Data Shows Dramatic Growth of Glacial Lakes

In the largest-ever study of glacial lakes, researchers using 30 years of NASA satellite data have found that the volume of these lakes worldwide has increased by about 50% since 1990 as glaciers melt and retreat due to climate change.

Global Survey Using NASA Data Shows Dramatic Growth of Glacial Lakes
Lake Imja near Mount Everest in the Himalaya is a glacier lake that has grown to three times its length since 1990

Aug 31, NASA: The findings, published in the journal Nature Climate Change, will aid researchers assessing the potential hazards to communities downstream of these often unstable lakes and help improve the accuracy of sea-level rise estimates by advancing our understanding of how glacial meltwater is transported to the oceans.


Glaciers are retreating on a near-global scale and this study provides scientists with a clearer picture of how much of this water has been stored in lakes.


“We have known that not all meltwater is making it into the oceans immediately,” said lead author Dan Shugar of the University of Calgary in Canada. “But until now there were no data to estimate how much was being stored in lakes or groundwater.” The study estimates current glacial lake volumes total about 37.4 cubic miles (156 cubic kilometres) of water, the equivalent of about one-third the volume of Lake Erie.


Shugar and his collaborators from governments and universities in Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, working under a grant from NASA’s High Mountain Asia Program, initially planned to use satellite imaging and other remote-sensing data to study two dozen glacial lakes in High Mountain Asia, the geographic region that includes the Tibetan Plateau and surrounding mountain ranges, including the Himalaya.


“We wrote scripts in Google Earth Engine, an online platform for very large analyses of geospatial data, to look only at High Mountain Asia, and then decided to look at all glacial lakes in the world,” Shugar said. “From there, we were able to build a scaling relationship to estimate the volume of the world’s glacial lakes based on the area of this large population of lakes.”


The team ultimately analyzed more than 250,000 scenes from the Landsat satellite missions, a joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey program. A decade ago it would not have been possible to process and analyze this volume of data. The team looked at the data in five time-steps beginning with 1990 to examine all the glaciated regions of the world except Antarctica and analyze how glacial lakes changed over that period.


Shugar points out that while water from melting glaciers stored in glacial lakes is a relatively small contributor to overall sea-level rise, it can have a major impact on mountain communities downstream of these glacial lakes.


Glacial lakes are not stable like the lakes in which most people are used to swimming or boating because they are often dammed by ice or glacial sediment called a moraine, which is composed of loose rock and debris that is pushed to the front and sides of glaciers. Rather, they can be quite unstable and can burst their banks or dams, causing massive floods downstream. These kinds of floods from glacial lakes, known as glacial lake outburst floods, have been responsible for thousands of deaths over the past century, as well as the destruction of villages, infrastructure, and livestock. A glacial lake outburst flood affected the Hunza Valley in Pakistan in May 2020.


“This is an issue for many parts of the world where people live downstream from these hazardous lakes, mostly in the Andes and in places like Bhutan and Nepal, where these floods can be devastating,” Shugar said. “Fortunately, organizations like the United Nations are facilitating a lot of monitoring and some mitigation work where they’re lowering the lakes to try and decrease the risks.”


In North America, the risks posed by a glacial lake outburst flood are lower.


“We don’t have much in the way of infrastructure or communities that are downstream,” Shugar said. “But we’re not immune to it.”

1 view0 comments

Comments


Planner 5D- Interior design app

Planner 5D- Interior design app

Flipkart Online Shopping App

Flipkart Online Shopping App

World population to reach 8 billion this year, as the growth rate slows

July 12, 2022 at 6:57:56 AM

15 November 2022 is predicted to be the day that the global population reaches eight billion. The projection is revealed in the UN’s World Population Prospects 2022 report, which also shows that India is on course to surpass China as the world’s most populous country in 2023.

World population to reach 8 billion this year, as the growth rate slows

WHO: Nearly one billion people have a mental disorder

June 22, 2022 at 7:20:50 AM

Nearly one billion people worldwide suffer from some form of mental disorder, according to the latest UN data – a staggering figure that is even more worrying if you consider that it includes around one in seven teenagers.

WHO: Nearly one billion people have a mental disorder

What can the UN do? Check the top 5 questions answered

April 6, 2022 at 10:51:48 AM

The current war in Ukraine, following the Russian invasion, has sparked all sorts of questions about the United Nations, particularly the role of the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretary-General.

What can the UN do? Check the top 5 questions answered

Ukraine: UN’s Guterres joins call for Bucha war crimes probe

April 6, 2022 at 8:22:29 AM

UN chief António Guterres on Tuesday added his voice to the growing international calls for a war crimes investigation into the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha.

Ukraine: UN’s Guterres joins call for Bucha war crimes probe

Recent terrorist attacks in Israel undermine ‘prospects for peace’: Guterres

March 31, 2022 at 8:29:57 AM

Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday night condemned recent terrorist attacks in Israel that have claimed the lives of at least 11 Israeli citizens.

Recent terrorist attacks in Israel undermine ‘prospects for peace’: Guterres

China's BYD ceases to produce gasoline-powered vehicles

4/4/22, 7:00 AM

Chinese auto manufacturer BYD announced Sunday that it has already ceased the production of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles starting from March.

China's BYD ceases to produce gasoline-powered vehicles

Performance-oriented all-new ŠKODA SLAVIA 1.5 TSI Launched creates a segment of its own

3/27/22, 10:42 AM

All new ŠKODA SLAVIA 1.5 TSI starts at ₹ 16.19 lacs

Performance-oriented all-new ŠKODA SLAVIA 1.5 TSI Launched creates a segment of its own

CARS24 Raises $450 Million, Nearly Doubles Its Valuation To $1.84 Billion

9/25/21, 6:16 AM

CARS24, India’s leading e-commerce platform for pre-owned vehicles, announced today the closing of a $450M round of funding including a $340M Series F equity round alongside $110M debt from diversified financial institutions.

CARS24 Raises $450 Million, Nearly Doubles Its Valuation To $1.84 Billion

Tata Motors launches the ‘XPRES’ brand for fleet customers

7/18/21, 6:13 PM

Tata Motors, one of India’s leading automobile manufacturers, today announced the launch of a new brand ‘XPRES,’ exclusively for fleet customers.

Tata Motors launches the ‘XPRES’ brand for fleet customers

Audi India announces curated ownership plans for Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback customers

7/18/21, 5:56 PM

Special Service Plans, Extended Warranty and Buyback for a hassle-free ownership experience

Audi India announces curated ownership plans for Audi e-tron and Audi e-tron Sportback customers

TikTok hits 1 billion global active users

9/28/21, 8:56 AM

TikTok mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.

TikTok hits 1 billion global active users

FACT CHECK: Crypto is increasingly being used for criminal activity and is a haven for illicit finance

6/23/21, 6:11 AM

Because cryptocurrency is still new, we are often asked about the biggest myths surrounding it. It’s common for a new market or product to confuse people until they get familiar with it. Think about Airbnb: the idea of staying in a stranger’s home seemed crazy until it didn’t.

FACT CHECK: Crypto is increasingly being used for criminal activity and is a haven for illicit finance

PUBG: NEW STATE surpasses 17 Million Google play store PRE-REGISTRATIONS following its recent ALPHA TEST

6/19/21, 4:40 AM

KRAFTON, Inc. to open pre-registration for the game on Apple’s App Store in Q3 2021

PUBG: NEW STATE surpasses 17 Million Google play store PRE-REGISTRATIONS following its recent ALPHA TEST
bottom of page