As glacier lake formations increase, so do flash floods: Study
Glacier lakes have become more prominent as of late, and a study shows that risk increases as the populations at risk of flash floods increase and their capacity to handle natural disasters decrease.
Melting ice caps that overlap with glaciers above the water recharge limit result in what is known as a glacier lake. A new study warned of the dangers of these formations.
According to the new study, the melting glaciers put the lives of people in India, Pakistan, Peru and China, where there is an abundance of glaciar lakes, at risk of flash floods. This risk increases as glaciers retreat and prompt the formation of glacier lakes that could break up and spread for more than 120 kilometers from the original site.
"Our work does not just focus on the size or number of glacier lakes - no disaster is natural - it is the presence of people, especially vulnerable people, in the landscape that causes a disaster," said Stuart Dunning, a physical geographer at Newcastle University, UK and co-author of the study.
The research revealed that, contrary to popular belief, the places most at risk do not have the largest, most numerous, or fastest-growing glacial lakes. Rather, the amount of people in the region, as well as their capacity to deal with natural disasters, is crucial to their risk.
According to the findings, 15 million people live within 50 kilometers of glacier lakes. High-altitude Asia, from Kyrgyzstan to China, is particularly vulnerable to floods, with an estimated 9.3 million people in danger. In India and Pakistan alone, there are around five million people at risk.
Read more: Half of Earth’s glaciers could still melt even if 1.5°C goal is met