Changes in Rongbuk lake and Imja lake in the Everest region of Himalaya
The Himalaya holds the world record in terms of range and elevation. It is one of the most extensively glacierized regions in the world except the Polar Regions. The Himalaya is a region sensitive to climate change. Changes in the glacial regime are indicators of global climate changes. Since the second half of the last century, most Himalayan glaciers have melted due to climate change. These changes directly affected the changes of glacial lakes in the Himalayan region due to the glacier retreat. New glacial lakes are formed, and a number of them have expanded in the Everest region of the Himalayas. This paper focuses on the two glacial lakes which are Imja Lake, located at the southern slope, and Rongbuk Lake, located at the northern slope in the Mt. Everest region, Himalaya to present the spatio-temporal changes from 1976 to 2008. Topographical conditions between two lakes were different (Kruskal-Wallis test, p < 0.05). Rongbuk Lake was located at 623 m higher than Imja Lake, and radiation of Rongbuk Lake was higher than the Imja Lake. Although size of Imja Lake was larger than the Rongbuk Lake in 2008, the growth speed of Rongbuk Lake was accelerating since 2000 and exceeds Imja Lake in 2000–2008. This trend of expansion of Rongbuk Lake is anticipated to be continued in the 21st century. Rongbuk Lake would be the biggest potential risk of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) at the Everest region of Himalaya in the future.