India, Pak, Peru, China At Higher Risk of Glacier Flooding

India, Pak, Peru, China At Higher Risk of Glacier Flooding

Glacier Melting/ flooding put the life of millions across the world, especially in four countries – India, Pakistan, Peru, and China – where glacial lakes are numerous and populations are vulnerable to climate disasters, said a new study.

Already glaciers are melting faster than scientists thought and around half of the world’s 215,000 glaciers could vanish by the end of the century. In the report, the authors say that the impact could be felt far, far sooner.

The new study, led by natural hazards researcher Caroline Taylor of Newcastle University in the UK, estimates around 15 million people live downstream of a glacial lake that could burst.


Taylor and colleagues assessed the risk glacial lakes globally pose to people who live below them, to catalyze targeted risk management efforts to help those most in danger. THEY compiled information on the conditions of glacial lakes – which have been growing in size, number and volume over the past three decades – and about the communities who live downstream.

Risk can be tricky to compute but in this case, the researchers factored in the proximity of communities to a potential outburst (their exposure) and how likely they would be impacted if the lake burst (vulnerability) as of 2020. Political corruption was also noted, as this stymies recovery efforts.

According to the researchers, this is the first global study “that considers not just the physical lake conditions, but also societal exposure and vulnerability that directly influence GLOF danger.”


The analysis showed that areas with the highest danger are not those with the largest, most numerous, or most rapidly growing glacial lakes, as you might expect. Rather, the number of people within the region and their capacity to cope with disaster is central to their risk. They said that populations in high mountainous regions of Asia are the most exposed, living closest to glacial lakes. Pakistan and China rank as the two countries most in danger globally.

Pakistan has 2.1 million people living in close proximity to glacial lakes at risk of overflowing – nearly twice that of China. China’s glacial lakes are larger and more numerous though, so could do more damage to infrastructure. The researchers also singled out the Andes Mountains in South America, and particularly Peru, which ranked third in terms of danger, as another area of concern.

The authors published the study in Nature Communications.


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