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Journal of Mountain Science

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 77–94 | Cite as

Mapping of moraine dammed glacial lakes and assessment of their areal changes in the central and eastern Himalayas using satellite data

  • Sazeda BegamEmail author
  • Dhrubajyoti Sen
Article
  • 34 Downloads

Abstract

The relatively rapid recession of glaciers in the Himalayas and formation of moraine dammed glacial lakes (MDGLs) in the recent past have increased the risk of glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF) in the countries of Nepal and Bhutan and in the mountainous territory of Sikkim in India. As a product of climate change and global warming, such a risk has not only raised the level of threats to the habitation and infrastructure of the region, but has also contributed to the worsening of the balance of the unique ecosystem that exists in this domain that sustains several of the highest mountain peaks of the world. This study attempts to present an up to date mapping of the MDGLs in the central and eastern Himalayan regions using remote sensing data, with an objective to analyse their surface area variations with time from 1990 through 2015, disaggregated over six episodes. The study also includes the evaluation for susceptibility of MDGLs to GLOF with the least criteria decision analysis (LCDA). Forty two major MDGLs, each having a lake surface area greater than 0.2 km2, that were identified in the Himalayan ranges of Nepal, Bhutan, and Sikkim, have been categorized according to their surface area expansion rates in space and time. The lakes have been identified as located within the elevation range of 3800 m and 6800 m above mean sea level (a msl). With a total surface area of 37.9 km2, these MDGLs as a whole were observed to have expanded by an astonishing 43.6% in area over the 25 year period of this study. A factor is introduced to numerically sort the lakes in terms of their relative yearly expansion rates, based on their interpretation of their surface area extents from satellite imageries. Verification of predicted GLOF events in the past using this factor with the limited field data as reported in literature indicates that the present analysis may be considered a sufficiently reliable and rapid technique for assessing the potential bursting susceptibility of the MDGLs. The analysis also indicates that, as of now, there are eight MDGLs in the region which appear to be in highly vulnerable states and have high chances in causing potential GLOF events anytime in the recent future.

Keywords

Glacier retreat Lakes mapping Moraine dammed glacial lake (MDGL) Surface area change of lakes Landsat imagery data Least criteria decision analysis (LCDA) 

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Notes

Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the Associate Editor, the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments which improved the manuscript significantly and brought it to this present form. Thanks are also due to the fellowship provided to the first author by the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India.

Supplementary material

11629_2018_5023_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (72 kb)
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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.School of Water ResourcesIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology KharagpurKharagpurIndia

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