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Open AccessArticle

Evolution and Controls of Large Glacial Lakes in the Nepal Himalaya

1
Department of Geology, University of Dayton, Dayton, OH 45458, USA
2
Planetary Science Institute, Tucson, AZ 85719, USA
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Water, Sediment, Hazards, and Earth-Surface Dynamics (waterSHED) Laboratory, University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma, WA 98402, USA
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Department of Planetary Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
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Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA
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Department of Geography, Exeter University, Exeter TR10 9FE, UK
8
Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, New York, NY 10027, USA
9
Himalayan Research Centre, Kathmandu 44600, Nepal
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Remote Sens. 2018, 10(5), 798; https://doi.org/10.3390/rs10050798
Received: 9 April 2018 / Revised: 10 May 2018 / Accepted: 17 May 2018 / Published: 21 May 2018
Glacier recession driven by climate change produces glacial lakes, some of which are hazardous. Our study assesses the evolution of three of the most hazardous moraine-dammed proglacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya—Imja, Lower Barun, and Thulagi. Imja Lake (up to 150 m deep; 78.4 × 106 m3 volume; surveyed in October 2014) and Lower Barun Lake (205 m maximum observed depth; 112.3 × 106 m3 volume; surveyed in October 2015) are much deeper than previously measured, and their readily drainable volumes are slowly growing. Their surface areas have been increasing at an accelerating pace from a few small supraglacial lakes in the 1950s/1960s to 1.33 km2 and 1.79 km2 in 2017, respectively. In contrast, the surface area (0.89 km2) and volume of Thulagi lake (76 m maximum observed depth; 36.1 × 106 m3; surveyed in October 2017) has remained almost stable for about two decades. Analyses of changes in the moraine dams of the three lakes using digital elevation models (DEMs) quantifies the degradation of the dams due to the melting of their ice cores and hence their natural lowering rates as well as the potential for glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). We examined the likely future evolution of lake growth and hazard processes associated with lake instability, which suggests faster growth and increased hazard potential at Lower Barun lake. View Full-Text
Keywords: GLOF; glacial lake; Nepal; Himalaya; proglacial lake; moraine-dammed; glacier; remote sensing; High Mountain Asia (HMA) GLOF; glacial lake; Nepal; Himalaya; proglacial lake; moraine-dammed; glacier; remote sensing; High Mountain Asia (HMA)
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MDPI and ACS Style

Haritashya, U.K.; Kargel, J.S.; Shugar, D.H.; Leonard, G.J.; Strattman, K.; Watson, C.S.; Shean, D.; Harrison, S.; Mandli, K.T.; Regmi, D. Evolution and Controls of Large Glacial Lakes in the Nepal Himalaya. Remote Sens. 2018, 10, 798.

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