Assessing downstream flood impacts due to a potential GLOF from Imja Tsho in Nepal
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences
Glacial-dominated areas pose unique challenges to downstream communities in adapting to recent and continuing global climate change, including increased threats of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) that can increase risk due to flooding of downstream communities and cause substantial impacts on regional social, environmental and economic systems. The Imja glacial lake (or Imja Tsho) in Nepal, which has the potential to generate a GLOF, was studied using a two-dimensional debris-flow inundation model in order to evaluate the effectiveness of proposed measures to reduce possible flooding impacts to downstream communities by lowering the lake level. The results indicate that only minor flood impact reduction is achieved in the downstream community of Dingboche with modest (~3 m) lake lowering. Lowering the lake by 10 m shows a significant reduction in inundated area. However, lowering the lake by 20 m almost eliminates all flood impact at Dingboche. Further downstream at Phakding, the impact of the GLOF is significant and similar reductions in inundation are likely as a result of lake lowering.