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Indian Himalayan states at risk of “glacial flood hazards”

Approximately one-third of Uttarakhand is in danger of destructive glacier floods, like the one that staggered Chamoli district. After drafting more than 5,000 glacial lakes on the Indian surface of the Himalayan range, a group of scientists has declared that there are more than 500 glacier lakes in Uttarakhand at the peril of an outbreak.

A recent flash flood in the Chamoli district swamped hundreds of people and washed out recently constructed dams and bridges and two energy projects in the Tapovan area of the district on Sunday. The Data Intelligence Unit (DIU) has examined the study which reveals that one-third of the tehsils in Uttarakhand (26 out of 78) are exposed to huge glacial floods, also identified as Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF).”Our study displays the expected glacial flood danger will broadly happen in the related valleys as currently swayed, but the excess of new lakes will exhibit in a many-fold increment in possible GLOF frequency and few new regions will also be moved in future,” Professor AP Dimri, one of the lead authors of the study and professor of environmental science at JNU told.

Professor Dimri and his colleagues have practiced satellite data to examine the process glaciers had evolved in the Indian Himalayan region. Based on these data, a group of scientists has extended a Hazard Index to determine the current and future glacial flood incidents. They have estimated the size and inclination of the lake along with the risks of avalanches crashing the lake.

The study also evaluates the influence of possible glacial floods in the state. The study stated that the possibilities of losses are more crucial in northern areas like Bhatwari, Joshimath, and Dharchula.In Uttarakhand, a huge number of population is unprotected to glacial flood hazards as the state has the largest population density (182/km2) amongst 11 Indian Himalayan states.“The damages could be seen in every sector, but hydel power projects and humans may face more risk in comparison to cropland and roads in Uttarakhand,” Dimri further added.

More than two-thirds of the lakes in Uttarakhand are of moraine dams. These dams are comparatively weak and can surely break and produce deadly floods. “Glacial lake outburst floods occurring due to the failure of moraine dams are significant hazards for the valley downstream, as they possess a huge amount of hydraulic energy that can kill thousands and destroy infrastructures and riverine landscape,” climate scientists included in another research said.

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The ice tops of mountains are melting fast as the world is becoming warmer day by day. GLOFs are the result of this climate transition when melting lakes creating huge water bodies around ice dams and likely to break with any pressure or seismic activity outcomes in a powerful flood, packed with mud and rock. According to a report of Journal Nature, the number of glacial lakes also increased by 48 percent (156.6 km) between 1990 and 2018.

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