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What is a glacier outburst flood? Discuss the causes and strategies to tackle a glacial burst in the Himalayan region. Viewpoints: Define glacier outburst flood and specify information related to it. What are the main causes of this disaster? Take i...


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What is a glacier outburst flood? Discuss the causes and strategies to tackle a glacial burst in the Himalayan region.

 

Viewpoints:

  • Define glacier outburst flood and specify information related to it.
  • What are the main causes of this disaster?
  • Take into account a strategy to tackle glacial bursts in the Himalayan region, especially Uttrakhand.
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Ans: ‘Glacial lake outburst flood’ (GLOF) is generally used to describe a sudden release of a significant amount of water retained in a glacial lake. GLOF refers to the flooding that occurs when the water dammed by a glacier or a moraine (accumulations of dirt, sand, pebbles, and rocks fallen onto the glacier surface) is released suddenly or when a dam containing a glacial lake fails.

The direct causes of glacial lake outburst floods are as following:

  • Sudden (and sometimes cyclic) releases of water
  • Large downstream river discharges (which increase by an order of magnitude)
  • Rapid slope movement into the lake
  • Heavy rainfall/snowmelt
  • Cascading processes (flood from a lake situated upstream)
  • Earthquake
  • Melting of ice incorporated in the dam/forming the dam
  • Blocking of subsurface outflow tunnels
  • Degradation of dam
  • Rise in temperature due to global warming or climate change

Strategy to tackle glacial burst in the Himalayan region:

  • Potentially dangerous lakes can be identified based on field observation.
  • Maintaining the records of past events like Kedarnath cloudburst and glacier burst in Chamoli district.
  • Analysis of geomorphologic and geotechnical characteristics of the lake/dam and other physical conditions.
  • Use of the latest technology like Synthetic-Aperture Radar imagery to automatically detect changes in water bodies.

 

As per Supreme Court and Ravi Chopra committee, the hydroelectric projects in certain locations could pose a disaster risk to few hilly states. Restricting constructions and development in GLOF/LLOF prone areas and the formation of significant policies is a very efficient means to reduce risks and lives of people.

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