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Recent and future EVOlution of Glacial LAkes in China (EVOGLAC): Spatio-temporal diversity and hazard potential

English title Recent and future evolution of glacial lakes in China (EVOGLAC): Spatio-temporal diversity and hazard potential
Applicant Bolch Tobias
Number 169979
Funding scheme Bilateral programmes
Research institution Geographisches Institut Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.01.2017 - 31.12.2020
Approved amount 349'370.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Geomorphology

Keywords (8)

Glaciology; China; Modelling; Tibet; Remote sensing; Himalaya; Hazards; Glacier Lakes

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Das Verschwinden der Hochgebirgsgletscher und die Vergrösserung der Gletscherseen sind einer der am deutlichsten erkennbaren Auswirkungen des Klimawandels. Solche neuen Seen bringen Chancen (z.B. Wasserkraft, Tourismus) aber stellen auch eine erhebliche Gefahr durch die sich erhöhende Möglichkeit für katastrophale Gletscherseeausbrüche dar. Dies trifft insbesondere auf Hochasien zu, wo Bevölkerung und Infrastruktur dieser Gefahr verstärkt ausgesetzt sind. Während die Verbreitung und die vergangenen Veränderungen der Gletscherseen bereits relativ gut untersucht sind, ist das Wissen über die Ausbruchsgefahr vergleichsweise gering. Zudem ist wenig über die zukünftige Entwicklung bestehender und die mögliche zukünftige Entstehung neuer Gletscherseen bekannt.
Lay summary

Das Ziel des Projekts ist es, die gegenwärtige und zukünftige Entwicklung der Gletscherseen und deren Gefahrenpotenzial unter verschiedenen klimatischen, geomorphologischen und topographischen Gegebenheiten zu untersuchen. Hierzu werden die Gletscher, Gletscherseen, die Topographie der Gletscherbetten sowie die Ausbruchsmechanismen umfassend mit fernerkundlichen und GIS-basierten Methoden in drei verschiedenen Regionen in Tibet untersucht. Für identifizierte potentiell gefährliche Gletscherseen sollen zudem Ausbruchsszenarien modelliert werden. Dies wird zu einem verbesserten Verständnis und zur verbesserten Vorhersage der Gletscherseeentstehung, der einen Ausbruch auslösenden Faktoren und des Gefahrenpotentials führen. Neben der Entwicklung quantitativer Methoden wird dieses Projekt auch zum bessern Verständnis der Wechselwirkungen zwischen lokalen Gegebenheiten, der Gletscherveränderung und der Seenentwicklung beitragen.

Die in diesem Projekt erarbeiteten Grundlagen und Methoden erlauben eine verbesserte Beurteilung der aktuellen Entwicklung und der zukünftigen Entstehung von Gletscherseen und deren Gefahrenpotential in unterschiedlichen Gebirgsregionen. Dies ist nicht nur für die Untersuchungsregion sondern im Zusammenhang mit dem zu erwartenden weiteren Gletscherrückzugs und der verstärkten Entstehung von Gletscherseen für alle vergletscherten Hochgebirgsregionen von besonderer Bedeutung.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 02.12.2016

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Glacial lakes exacerbate Himalayan glacier mass loss
King Owen, Bhattacharya Atanu, Bhambri Rakesh, Bolch Tobias (2019), Glacial lakes exacerbate Himalayan glacier mass loss, in Scientific Reports, 9(1), 18145-18145.
Glacial lake evolution and glacier–lake interactions in the Poiqu River basin, central Himalaya, 1964–2017
ZHANG GUOQING, BOLCH TOBIAS, ALLEN SIMON, LINSBAUER ANDREAS, CHEN WENFENG, WANG WEICAI (2019), Glacial lake evolution and glacier–lake interactions in the Poiqu River basin, central Himalaya, 1964–2017, in Journal of Glaciology, 1-19.
Potentially dangerous glacial lakes across the Tibetan Plateau revealed using a large-scale automated assessment approach
Allen Simon Keith, Zhang Guoqing, Wang Weicai, Yao Tandong, Bolch Tobias (2019), Potentially dangerous glacial lakes across the Tibetan Plateau revealed using a large-scale automated assessment approach, in Science Bulletin, 64(7), 435-445.
Towards automated mapping and monitoring of potentially dangerous glacial lakes in Bhutan Himalaya using Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar data
Wangchuk Sonam, Bolch Tobias, Zawadzki Jarosław (2019), Towards automated mapping and monitoring of potentially dangerous glacial lakes in Bhutan Himalaya using Sentinel-1 Synthetic Aperture Radar data, in International Journal of Remote Sensing, 1-26.
Status and Change of the Cryosphere in the Extended Hindu Kush Himalaya Region
Bolch Tobias, Shea Joseph M., Liu Shiyin, Azam Farooq M., Gao Yang, Gruber Stephan, Immerzeel Walter W., Kulkarni Anil, Li Huilin, Tahir Adnan A., Zhang Guoqing, Zhang Yinsheng (2019), Status and Change of the Cryosphere in the Extended Hindu Kush Himalaya Region, in Wester P (ed.), Springer International Publishing, Cham, 209-255.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Chinese Academy of Sciences, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
WSL- SLF, Joel Caduff-Fiddes Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
AGU Fall Meeting Talk given at a conference Characteristics and changes of glaciers, rock glaciers and glacial lakes in High Mountain Asia since the 1960s 09.12.2019 San Francisco, United States of America King Owen; Bolch Tobias; Allen Simon;
AGU Fall Meeting Talk given at a conference Glacial lakes in the Himalaya: Threat to glaciers and downstream communities 09.12.2019 San Francisco, United States of America Bolch Tobias; Yao Tandong; Allen Simon; King Owen;
International Workshop on the Asian Water Tower Talk given at a conference Heterogeneous Glacier Mass Changes on the Asian Water Tower During the Last 50 Years and the Importance of Glacial Lakes 11.07.2019 Beijing, China Bolch Tobias;
EGU General Assembly Talk given at a conference Potentially dangerous glacial lakes across the Tibetan Plateau revealed using a large-scale automated assessment approach 08.04.2019 Vienna, Austria Allen Simon;
International Workshop on Cryosphere and Water Cycle Observation-Modeling Integration over Third Pole Talk given at a conference Status and Change of the Cryosphere in the Himalayan Region 26.01.2019 Beijing, China Bolch Tobias;
AGU Fall meeting Talk given at a conference Assessing the Recent and Future Evolution of Glacial Lakes in the Poiqu River Basin, Central Himalaya: 13.12.2018 Washington, DC, United States of America Allen Simon; Bolch Tobias; Yao Tandong; King Owen; Linsbauer Andreas;
Central Asian Water Talk given at a conference Evolution of Ice-Debris Landforms 10.10.2018 Almaty, Kazakstan Bolch Tobias;
The Second Tibetan Plateau Scientific Expedition Forum Individual talk Glaciers and Glacial Lakes at the Third Pole - Changes and Impact 05.09.2018 Lhasa, China Yao Tandong; Bolch Tobias;
Dragon IV symposium Talk given at a conference Inventory and activities of rockglaciers in Northern Tien Shan (Kazakhstan, Krygyzstan, China) using satellite SAR interferometry and optical imagery 26.06.2017 Copenhagen, Denmark Bolch Tobias; Allen Simon;
The Hutton Club seminar and discussion series Individual talk Changes of the Cryosphere in High Asia: Observations, Projections, Drivers and Impacts 17.02.2017 Edinburgh, Scotland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Bolch Tobias;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Status and Change of the Cryosphere in the Third Pole Region. Guest lecture by Dr. Tobias Bolch at ITP 26.10.2017 ITP, Beijing, China
Processes causing Glacial Lake Outburst Floods - examples from recent studies in the Indian Himalayan Region. Guest lecture by Dr. Simon Allen at ITP 26.10.2017 ITP, Beijing, China

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
High level meeting of the government of the Tibetan Autonomous Region Talk 07.09.2018 Lhasa, China Bolch Tobias; Yao Tandong;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Flash floods threaten more people than thought, as ice melts National Geographic International 2019
Media relations: print media, online media New hazards research: Anak Krakatau, glacial lakes and giant quakes EGU General Assembly Press Conference International 2019
Media relations: radio, television Study identifies danger glacial lakes across Tibetan Plateau BBC International 2019
Media relations: print media, online media The second investigation of the Qinghai-Tibet Autonomous Region and Hubei Province International 2017

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
146761 Understanding Contrasts in High Mountain Hydrology in Asia (UNCOMUN) 01.12.2013 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

The disappearance of mountain glaciers and expansion of glacial lakes are amongst the most recognizable and dynamic impacts of climate warming. Such new lakes bring opportunities (e.g., hydropower, tourism) but also pose significant threats, due to the increasing potential for catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs). This threat is most pronounced across high mountain Asia, where communities, transportation networks, and other vital infrastructure are exposed. This is particularly true for China, where many potentially dangerous lakes have been documented, and significant growth of these lakes has been noted over recent decades. In view of projected warming over the 21st century and continued retreat of glaciers, scientific attention has recently shifted beyond monitoring and assessment of the existing GLOF threat, towards the anticipation of where new, potentially problematic lakes will form in the future. Such lakes will most likely develop in bedrock depressions or overdeepenings in the exposed glacier bed, and as such, methods have been developed to model bed topography and thereby identify where these new lakes will form. However, a key limitation remains that timing of the emergence and future evolution of glacial lakes is generally unconstrained for data-scarce mountain regions. This represents a major scientific challenge, as local climatological, geomorphological, and topographic conditions will lead to significant diversity in lake evolution. In addition, integrated approaches are yet to be developed which consider the full range of triggering processes that contribute to GLOF hazard both now, and in the future. Highly transient factors include the stability of surrounding ice and rock walls, the thawing of ice-cored moraine dams, and changes in heavy precipitation, snowmelt and faster runoff that may be expected in some deglaciated catchments.The overall aim of the proposed study is to develop and implement a comprehensive methodological approach to investigate the recent and future evolution of glacial lakes and their related hazard potential in different climatological, geomorphological, and topographic settings. This will lead to improved understanding and prediction of lake formation, change in GLOF triggering processes, and change in hazard in downstream areas, as glaciers continue to retreat over the 21st century and beyond. The research methodology is centred on seven work packages which bring together the complementary strengths of the partner institutions in the fields of remote sensing based analyses of the cryosphere, GIS-based modelling, and GLOF hazard assessment. Within three contrasting study regions in Tibet, reconstruction of the recent (since ca. 1970) evolution of glacier thinning, retreat, and associated lake development will provide the basis for catchment-scale modelling of future changes. The integrated modelling approach will consider not only the expansion of existing lakes, but also the formation of new lakes in the exposed bed topography, and will investigate the corresponding increase in GLOF potential as key transient triggering processes evolve in a warmer climate. For selected critical lakes, both now, and in the future, complete lake outburst modelling will be undertaken, providing a quantitative basis for assessing the change in downstream hazard.The methodological approach will be optimised for outscaling to larger regions, recognising the urgent need for robust scientific information to support adaptation planning in response to the rapidly evolving GLOF threat across high mountain Asia. The exchange of knowledge between Swiss and Chinese institutions will ensure that local scientists are best positioned to lead ongoing monitoring programs and further research activities in the region.
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