Integrated hazard assessment of Cirenmaco glacial lake in Zhangzangbo valley, Central Himalayas

📅 2018-01-01✍️ Wang, Weicai , Gao, Yang , Iribarren Anacona, Pablo , Lei, Yanbin , Xiang, Yang , Zhang, Guoqing , Li, Shenghai , Lu, Anxin📚 Geomorphology🎯 article
Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) have recently become one of the primary natural hazards in the Himalayas. There is therefore an urgent need to assess GLOF hazards in the region. Cirenmaco, a moraine-dammed lake located in the upstream portion of Zhangzangbo valley, Central Himalayas, has received public attention after its damaging 1981 outburst flood. Here, by combining remote sensing methods, bathymetric survey and 2D hydraulic modeling, we assessed the hazard posed by Cirenmaco in its current status. Inter-annual variation of Cirenmaco lake area indicates a rapid lake expansion from 0.10 ± 0.08 km2 in 1988 to 0.39 ± 0.04 km2 in 2013. Bathymetric survey shows the maximum water depth of the lake in 2012 was 115 ± 2 m and the lake volume was calculated to be 1.8 × 107 m3. Field geomorphic analysis shows that Cirenmaco glacial lake is prone to GLOFs as mass movements and ice and snow avalanches can impact the lake and the melting of the dead ice in the moraine can lower the dam level. HEC-RAS 2D model was then used to simulate moraine dam failure of the Cirenmaco and assess GLOF impacts downstream. Reconstruction of Cirenmaco 1981 GLOF shows that HEC-RAS can produce reasonable flood extent and water depth, thus demonstrate its ability to effectively model complex GLOFs. GLOF modeling results presented can be used as a basis for the implementation of disaster prevention and mitigation measures. As a case study, this work shows how we can integrate different methods to GLOF hazard assessment.

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