The flood danger posed by glacial lakes across the Tibetan Plateau has been assessed in the most comprehensive study of its kind so far. Simon Allen, member of the international research team, was interviewed by BBC.
Swiss and Chinese scientists looked at 1,300 of these water bodies that have built up in front of retreating glaciers and which are dammed by rocky debris. The fear is that these lakes can overtop their barriers and send floods downstream that overrun settlements.
The team has found 210 (16%) to have the potential to threaten communities. It is information local decision-makers can now use to prioritise strategies to mitigate the risk, says Simon Allen, who with scientists at the University of Zurich worked alongside colleagues from the Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research in Beijing.
Simon Keith Allen, Guoqing Zhang, Weicai Wang, Tandong Yao, Tobias Bolch,
Potentially dangerous glacial lakes across the Tibetan Plateau revealed using a large-scale automated assessment approach. Science Bulletin, 2019