A new remote hazard and risk assessment framework for glacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya
Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) pose a significant threat to downstream communities and infrastructure due to their potential to rapidly unleash stored lake water. The most common triggers of these GLOFs are mass movement entering the lake and/or the self-destruction of the terminal moraine due to hydrostatic pressures or a buried ice core. This study initially uses previous qualitative and quantitative assessments to understand the hazards associated with eight glacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya that are widely considered to be highly dangerous. The previous assessments yield conflicting classifications with respect to each glacial lake, which spurred the development of a new holistic, reproducible, and objective approach based solely on remotely sensed data. This remote hazard assessment analyzes mass movement entering the lake, the stability of the moraine, and lake growth in conjunction with a geometric GLOF to determine the downstream impacts such that the present and future risk associated with each glacial lake may be quantified. The new approach is developed within a hazard, risk, and management action framework with the aim that this remote assessment may guide future field campaigns, modeling efforts, and ultimately risk-mitigation strategies. The remote assessment was found to provide valuable information regarding the hazards faced by each glacial lake and results were discussed within the context of the current state of knowledge to help guide future efforts.