Sciences in Cold and Arid Regions ›› 2015, Vol. 7 ›› Issue (6): 654-665.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1226.2015.00654

• ARTICLES • Previous Articles    

Moraine-dammed glacial lake changes during the recent 40 years in the Poiqu River Basin, Himalayas

XiuJuan Zhang1,2, ShiYin Liu1, Li Liu1   

  1. 1. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou, Gansu 730000, China;
    2. University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China
  • Received:2015-07-26 Revised:2015-09-25 Published:2018-11-23
  • Contact: XiuJuan Zhang
  • Supported by:
    This study was supported by programs from the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (MOST) (Grant Nos. 2013FY111400 and 2012BAC19B07) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 41190084). The first and second Chinese Glacier Inventory data were provided by an immediate past Project from MOST (Grant No. 2006FY110200).

Abstract: Glacier retreat is not only a symbol of temperature and precipitation change, but a dominating factor of glacial lake changes in alpine regions, which are of wide concern for high risk of potential outburst floods. Of all types of glacial lakes, moraine-dammed lakes may be the most dangerous to local residents in mountain regions. Thus, we monitored the dynamics of 12 moraine-dammed glacial lakes from 1974 to 2014 in the Poiqu River Basin of central west Himalayas, as well as their associated glaciers with a combination of remote sensing, topographic maps and digital elevation models (DEMs). Our results indicate that all monitored moraine-dammed glacial lakes have expanded by 7.46 km2 in total while the glaciers retreated by a total of 15.29 km2 correspondingly. Meteorological analysis indicates a warming and drying trend in the Nyalam region from 1974 to 2014, which accelerated glacier retreat and then augmented the supply of moraine-dammed glacial lakes from glacier melt. Lake volume and water depth changed from 1974 to 2014 which indicates that lakes Kangxico, Galongco, and Youmojanco have a high potential for outburst floods and in urgent need for continuous monitoring or artificial excavation to release water due to the quick increase in water depths and storage capacities. Lakes Jialongco and Cirenmaco, with outburst floods in 1981 and 2002, have a high potential risk for outburst floods because of rapid lake growth and steep slope gradients surrounding them.

Key words: moraine-dammed glacial lake, Poiqu River Basin, remote sensing, empirical equations, slope gradient

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