Glacial lake floods threaten communities in Asia, South America

Canada Global (Web News) Around 15 million people worldwide are at increased risk of flooding due to melting mountain glaciers, according to researchers in a report released on Tuesday. Communities in Asia are most at risk.

Often, runoff from melting glaciers pools in little lakes that are kept back by obstructions like boulders. The danger arises when a lake overflows, breaking through its protective natural barrier and unleashing a flood of water into mountain valleys.

For the first time, scientists have estimated how many people on the planet are at risk from these floods, and they have discovered that more than half of these populations reside in India, Pakistan, China, and Peru.

According to a study that was published in the journal Nature Communications, the risk is greatest when a lot of people reside close to a lake.

No disaster is natural; rather, it is the presence of people, particularly vulnerable people, in the landscape that leads to a disaster, according to Stuart Dunning, a physical geographer at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom and a co-author of the study.

Floods caused by glacial lake outbursts are expected to get worse as the climate warms.

Between 2006 and 2016, the world’s glaciers collectively lost 332 gigatonnes of ice annually. Globally, glacial lakes have grown in size and number by around 50% since 1990.

Around 9 million people reside close to more than 2,000 glacial lakes in Asia’s high highlands. More than 100 individuals died in an outburst flood in India in 2021.

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