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July 16th, 2007
Himalayan Floods from Glacial Lakes

About 15,000 glaciers and 9000 glacial lakes are known in Bhutan, Nepal and Pakistan, and in China and India.

In Nepal alone, twenty one of these lakes have burst their banks in the past few years, releasing catastrophic floods down the river valleys. Another 200 are believed to be dangerous.

A remarkable example is Lake Imja Tsho in the Dudh Koshi sub-basin (Khumbu-Everest region). It was virtually non-existent in 1960. It now covers nearly a square kilometre. The Imja glacier, which feeds it, is retreating at an unprecedented 74 metres per year (between 2001 and 2006).

The authors of the report say it underlines the urgent need to enhance scientific knowledge of glacier environments. It is essential to monitor glaciers and glacial lakes continuously, in order to carry out vulnerability assessments, and to implement mitigation and adaptation mechanisms.

Regional co-operation is also required, to develop a co-ordinated strategy to deal with trans-boundary issues related to the impacts of climate change.

Visit http://books.icimod.org/index.php/search/publication/169 to download the report.

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