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ISRO tracks notable expansion of glacial lakes in Indian Himala-yas

Why is it in the news?

  • The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has observed a notable expansion of glacial lakes in the Indian Himalayas from 1984 to 2023 through long-term satellite imagery.

More about the news

  • The Indian Himalayas are often referred to as the Third Pole due to their extensive glaciers and snow cover, making them crucial for climate studies.
  • Satellite remote sensing technology plays a vital role in understanding glacier retreat rates, assessing risks of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs), and studying the impacts of climate change.

Key observations

  • Glacial lakes originate from the melting of glaciers and are grouped into four categories based on their formation process: Moraine-dammed, Ice-dammed, Erosion, and others.
  • Material left behind by moving glaciers is called moraine, and it forms natural dams for some glacial lakes.
  • Among 2,431 lakes studied, 676 glacial lakes have expanded since 1984, with 130 located within India in the Indus, Ganga, and Brahmaputra River basins.
  • The majority of expanding lakes are Moraine-dammed, followed by Erosion-dammed glacial lakes.
  • Glacial lakes serve as freshwater sources for rivers in the Himalayan region but also pose significant risks such as GLOFs.
About GLOFs

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) occur when glacial lakes release large volumes of meltwater due to the failure of natural dams, leading to sudden and severe flooding downstream.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 GLOFs can be triggered by various factors including avalanches of ice or rock, extreme weather events, global warming, earthquakes, etc.

路聽聽聽聽聽聽 GLOFs are recognized as a potential climatological disaster in the National Disaster Management Plan 2019 of India.


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