Identification and Mapping of Potential Moraine-Dammed Lakes
A large number of moraine-dammed lakes have been mapped in the Himalaya. This number is likely to increase as majority of the Himalayan glaciers are experiencing accelerated retreat. Glacier lakes are potential source of outburst flood, leading to destruction of life and property in the downstream. Furthermore, threats from the glacial lakes are likely to increase in the future due to the ongoing change in climate. Therefore, it is necessary to develop a systematic programme to map existing glacial lakes, and develop a systematic data base of glacial lakes, identify the potentially dangerous lakes, develop a mitigation plan and disaster management strategy including early warning system to safe guard life and property of people in the Himalayan region.
Modelling Glacier Dynamics to Understand Future Changes in Glacial Extent Due to Changes in Climate
Mass balance is one of the key variables to assess the state of a glacier and is useful in modelling future changes in glacial extents. Mass balance in the field is measured using traditional glaciological method. However, available in situ measurements of mass balance are sparse and biased towards small glaciers and hence not representative of the entire Himalayas. Therefore, a programme needs to be launched to measure mass balance at the basin scale. The field-based technique can be combined with remote sensing based methods such as equilibrium line altitude and photogrammetric method to estimate mass loss on basin and regional scale.
Further, our understanding of the impact of projected climate change on the Himalayan glaciers is poor. Hence, we have to launch a programme to understand future changes in mass loss due to the change in temperature and precipitation. This will help in understanding the distribution of glaciers if mass loss is combined with glacier dynamics. Hence, the programme should also include the development of better models to understand relationships between mass balance, glacial depth and any other physical parameter of glaciers. This will help us in understanding future changes in glacial area.