Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 64–76 | Cite as

Modelling Chorabari Lake outburst flood, Kedarnath, India

  • Mohammd RafiqEmail author
  • Shakil Ahmad Romshoo
  • Anoop Kumar Mishra
  • Faizan Jalal


In this study, the Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) that occurred over Kedarnath in June 2013 was modeled using integrated observations from the field and Remote Sensing (RS). The lake breach parameters such as area, depth, breach, and height have been estimated from the field observations and Remote Sensing (RS) data. A number of modelling approaches, including Snow Melt Runoff Model (SRM), Modified Single Flow model (MSF), Watershed Management System (WMS), Simplified Dam Breach Model (SMPDBK) and BREACH were used to model the GLOF. Estimations from SRM produced a runoff of about 22.7 m3 during 16–17, June 2013 over Chorabari Lake. Bathymetry data reported that the lake got filled to its maximum capacity (3822.7 m3) due to excess discharge. Hydrograph obtained from the BREACH model revealed a peak discharge of about 1699 m3/s during an intense water flow episode that lasted for 10–15 minutes on 17th June 2013. Excess discharge from heavy rainfall and snowmelt into the lake increased its hydrostatic pressure and the lake breached cataclysmically.


Glacier lake outburst flood GIS Modelling Snow Melt Runoff Kedarnath Glacier Lake 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.



We thank Omer Khalid Murtaza, Fayaah Ahmad Tantray and Pushkar Nath for assistance in the field. The research work was conducted as part of the DST, Govt. of India, New Delhi sponsored research project titled “Risk Assessment for Kedarnath Glacial Lake Outburst Floods” under the national project “Mapping Your Neighborhood in Uttarakhand (MANU)” and the financial assistance received under the project to accomplish this research is thankfully acknowledged. We also thank Department of Earth sciences, University of Kashmir for their valuable support throughout the research work also the assistance by Uttarakhand Police, Disaster management cell and other government and non-government organizations during field data collection is thankfully acknowledged. We appreciated comments by the four anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of the manuscript.


  1. Allen SK, Rastner P, Arora M, et al. (2016) Lake outburst and debris flow disaster at Kedarnath, June 2013: hydrometeorological triggering and topographic predisposition. Landslides 13(6): 1479–1491.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Asthana A K, Asthana H (2014) Geomorphic Control of cloud burusts and flash floods in Himalaya with special reference to Kedarnath area of Uttrakhand, India. International Journal of Advancement in Earth and Environmental Sciences 2(1): 16–24.Google Scholar
  3. Bajracharya S R, Mool P K, Shrestha B R (2007) Impact of climate change on Himalayan glaciers and glacial lakes: Case studies on GLOF and associated hazards in Nepal and Bhutan. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD).Google Scholar
  4. Bolch T, Kulkarni A, Kääb A, et al (2012) The state and fate of Himalayan glaciers. Science 336(6079): 310–314. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bonham–Carter GF (2014) Geographic information systems for geoscientists: modelling with GIS. Pergamon, Ottawa.Google Scholar
  6. Carey M (2005) Living and dying with glaciers: people's historical vulnerability to avalanches and outburst floods in Peru. Global and Planetary Change 47(2): 122–134. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Clague JJ, Evans SG (2000) A review of catastrophic drainage of moraine–dammed lakes in British Columbia. Quaternary Science Reviews 19(17): 1763–1783. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Clarke G K (1982) Glacier outburst floods from Hazard Lake, Yukon Territory, and the problem of flood magnitude prediction. Journal of Glaciology 28: 3–21. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Costa JE, Schuster RL (1988) The formation and failure of natural dams. Geological Society of America Bulletin 100(7): 1054–1068.<1054:TFAFON>2.3.CO;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Das S, Kar NS, Bandyopadhyay S (2015) Glacial lake outburst flood at Kedarnath, Indian Himalaya: a study using digital elevation models and satellite images. Natural Hazards 77(2): 769–786. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Dobhal DP, Gupta AK, Mehta M et al. (2013) Kedarnath disaster: facts and plausible causes. Current Science 105(2): 171–174.Google Scholar
  12. Emmer A (2018) GLOFs in the WOS: bibliometrics, geographies and global trends of research on glacial lake outburst floods (Web of Science, 1979–2016). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 18(3): 813–827. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fread DL (1988) BREACH, an erosion model for earthen dam failures. Hydrologic Research Laboratory, National Weather Service, NOAA, Silver Spring, Maryland. (Accessed 6 October 2018)Google Scholar
  14. Huggel C, Haeberli W, Kääb A et al. (2004) An assessment procedure for glacial hazards in the Swiss Alps. Canadian Geotechnical Journal 41: 1068–1083. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Huggel C, Kääb A, Haeberli W et al. (2003) Regional–scale GISmodels for assessment of hazards from glacier lake outbursts: evaluation and application in the Swiss Alps. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science 3(6): 647–662. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Jenson SK, Domingue JO (1988) Extracting topographic structure from digital elevation data for geographic information system analysis. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing 54(11): 1593–1600.Google Scholar
  17. Korup O, Tweed F (2007) Ice, moraine, and landslide dams in mountainous terrain. Quaternary Science Reviews 26: 3406–3422. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kulkarni AV, Bahuguna IM, Rathore BP et al. (2007) Glacial retreat in Himalaya using Indian remote sensing satellite data. Current Science 1: 69–74.Google Scholar
  19. Lamsal D, Sawagaki T, Watanabe T et al. (2016a) An assessment of conditions before and after the 1998 Tam Pokhari outburst in the Nepal Himalaya and an evaluation of the future outburst hazard. Hydrological Processes 30(5): 676–691. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Lamsal D, Sawagaki T, Watanabe T, et al. (2016b) Assessment of glacial lake development and prospects of outburst susceptibility: Chamlang South Glacier, eastern Nepal Himalaya. Geomatics, Natural Hazards and Risk 7(1): 403–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Livne E, Tal Svoray (2011) Components of uncertainty in primary production model: the study of DEM, classification and location error. International Journal of Geographical Information Science 25(3): 473–488.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Malone ETE (2010) Changing glaciers and hydrology in Asia. Addressing vulnerability to glacier ice melt impacts. Washington, DC: USAID. Available online at:–2010.pdf (Accesses on 7 April 2017)Google Scholar
  23. Marks D, Dozier J, Frew J (1984) Automated basin delineation from digital elevation data. Geo–Processing 2(3): 299–311.Google Scholar
  24. Martz LW, Garbrecht J (1992) Numerical definition of drainage network and subcatchment areas from digital elevation models. Computers & Geosciences 18(6): 747–761. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Martinec J (1975) Snowmelt–runoff model for stream flow forecasts. Hydrology Research 6(3): 145–154. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Martinec J, Rango A, Major E (1983) The snowmelt–runoff model (SRM) user’s manual. (Accessed on 12 October 2018)Google Scholar
  27. Mergili M, Emmer A, Juricová A et al. (2018) How well can we simulate complex hydro–geomorphic process chains? The 2012 multi–lake outburst flood in the Santa Cruz Valley (Cordillera Blanca, Perú). Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 43(7): 1373–1389. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mergili M, Schneider D, Worni R et al. (2011) Glacial lake outburst floods in the Pamir of Tajikistan: challenges in prediction and modelling. In 5th International Conference on Debris–flow Hazards Mitigation: Mechanics, Prediction and Assessment, University of Padova, Italy, pp 14–17.Google Scholar
  29. Massey CI, Manville V, Hancox GH et al. (2010) Out–burst flood (lahar) triggered by retrogressive landsliding, 18 March 2007 at Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand—a successful early warning. Landslides 7(3): 303–315. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Meon G, Schwarz W (1993) Estimation of glacier lake outburst flood and its impact on a hydro project in Nepal. IAHS Publications–Publications of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences 218: 331–340.Google Scholar
  31. Mir RA, Jain SK, Lohani AK et al. (2018) Glacier recession and glacial lake outburst flood studies in Zanskar basin, western Himalaya. Journal of Hydrology 564: 376–396. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Mishra A, Srinivasan J (2013) Did a cloud burst occur in Kedarnath during 16 and 17 June 2013? Current Science 105(10): 1351–1352.Google Scholar
  33. Mishra A, Liu SC (2014) Changes in precipitation pattern and risk of drought over India in the context of global warming. Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres 119(13): 7833–7841. Google Scholar
  34. Mishra AK, Rafiq M (2017) Analyzing snowfall variability over two locations in Kashmir, India in the context of warming climate. Dynamics of Atmospheres and Oceans 79: 1–9. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Mool PK, Wangda D, Bajracharya SR et al. (2001) Inventory of glaciers, glacial lakes and glacial lake outburst floods. Monitoring and early warning systems in the Hindu Kush–Himalayan Region: Bhutan. International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development, Kathmandu, Nepal.Google Scholar
  36. Najafi A (2003) Investigation of the snowmelt runoff in the Orumiyeh region, using modeling, GIS and RS techniques. Doctoral dissertation MS Thesis, ITC Netherlands.Google Scholar
  37. O'Callaghan JF, Mark DM (1984) The extraction of drainage networks from digital elevation data. Computer vision, graphics, and image processing 28(3): 323–344. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Osti R, Egashira S (2009) Hydrodynamic characteristics of the Tam Pokhari Glacial Lake outburst flood in the Mt. Everest region, Nepal. Hydrological Processes 23(20): 2943–2955. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rafiq M, Mishra A (2016) Investigating changes in Himalayan glacier in warming environment: a case study of Kolahoi glacier. Environmental Earth Sciences 75(23): 1469. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Rafiq M, Mishra A (2018) A study of heavy snowfall in Kashmir, India in January 2017. Weather 73(1): 15–17. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Rafiq M, Meer MS, Mishra A (2018) On land use and land cover changes over Lidder valley in changing environment. Annals of GIS, CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Rafiq M, Rashid I, Romshoo SA (2012) Estimation and validation of Remotely Sensed Land Surface Temperature in Kashmir Valley. Journal of Himalayan Ecology & Sustainable Development 9: 1–13.Google Scholar
  43. Rafiq M, Rashid I, Romshoo SA (2014) The Importance of Temperature Lapse Rate for Snow Hydrology. National Conference on Himalayan Glaciology, At Shimla Himachal 30–31 October 2014. Pradesh, India. Google Scholar
  44. Rafiq M, Rashid I, Romshoo SA (2016) Estimating Land Surface Temperature and its Lapse Rate over Kashmir Valley Using MODIS Data. In Geostatistical and Geospatial Approaches for the Characterization of Natural Resources in the Environment, 723–728. New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rao KHV, Rao, VV, Dadhwal VK et al. (2014) Kedarnath flash floods: a hydrological and hydraulic simulation study. Current Science 106 (4): 598.Google Scholar
  46. Richardson SD, Reynolds JM (2000a) Degradation of ice–cored moraine dams: implications for hazard development. IAHS PUBLICATION, Washington USA, pp 187–198.Google Scholar
  47. Richardson SD, Reynolds JM (2000b) An overview of glacial hazards in the Himalayas. Quaternary International 65: 31–47. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Romshoo SA, Rafiq M, Rashid I (2018) Spatio–temporal variation of land surface temperature and temperature lapse rate over mountainous Kashmir Himalaya. Journal of Mountain Science 15(3): 563–576. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Singh VP (1996) Dam Breach Modelling Technology, vol.17. Kluwer Academic Publishers. Dordrecht, Boston, London, pp 242.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Tarboton DG, Bras RL, Rodriguez–Iturbe I (1991) On the extraction of channel networks from digital elevation data. Hydrological Processes 5 (1): 81–100. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Tingsanchali T, Chinnarasri C (2001) Numerical modelling of dam failure due to flow overtopping. Hydrological Sciences Journal 46(1): 113–130. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Veh Georg, Oliver Korup, Sigrid Roessner et al. (2018) Detecting Himalayan glacial lake outburst floods from Landsat time series. Remote Sensing of Environment. 207: 84–97. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Walder JS, Costa JE (1996) Outburst floods from glacierdammed lakes: the effect of mode of lake drainage on flood magnitude. Earth Surface Processes and Landforms 21(8): 701–723. 10.1002/(SICI)1096-9837(199608)21:8<701::AID-ESP615>3.0.CO;2-2CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Walder JS, O’Connor JE (1997) Methods for predicting peak discharge of floods caused by failure of natural and constructed earthen dams. Water Resources Research 33(10): 2337–2348. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Wetmore JN, Fread DL (1981) The NWS simplified dam–break flood forecasting model. National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Maryland, pp 164–197.Google Scholar
  56. Worni R, Stoffel M, Huggel C, et al. (2012) Analysis and dynamic modeling of a moraine failure and glacier lake outburst flood at Ventisquero Negro, Patagonian Andes (Argentina). Journal of Hydrology 444: 134–145. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Science Press, Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, CAS and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Remote Sensing and GeoinformaticsSathyabama Institute of Science and TechnologyChennaiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of KashmirSrinagarIndia

Personalised recommendations