Heterogeneous Status of Glacial Terminal-Contacted Lakes in Himalayas Due to Different Geomorphology and Glacier Characters

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Qiao Liu1, Yong Nie1 and Shiyin Liu2, (1)IMHE Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu, China, (2)CAREERI/CAS Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences, Lanzhou, China
Widespread expanding of glacial lakes around the Himalayas, which has led (or will lead) to hazard risks in their downstream valleys due to the potential glacial outburst flood (GLOF), has been widely reported during the past decades. Among all type of glacial lakes, those lakes contacted with the terminals of modern glaciers are generally found experienced most remarkable area increases. That is mostly due to the coupled processes, such as calving, between the lake growths and ice tongue retreats. Thermal absorption and convection of lake water are important for calving at the ice cliff or sub-marine melting under the supra-ponded water bodies. Currently, many larger moraine dammed lakes, e. g., Imja Tsho (Nepal) and Longbasaba Lake (China), are observed undergoing remarkable growths and synchronically with the rapid ice margin collapses due to calving. Some newly formed and rapidly growing supraglacial lakes are also identified on the debris-covered region of Himalayan glaciers, e. g., the Rongbuk Glacier (China), Ngozumpa Glacier (Nepal) and Thorthormi Glacier (Butan), which are speculated to experience accelerated expanding in the near future and finally developing as bigger terminal-calving lakes. However, not all such lake-glacier systems present the same scenes. After experienced the phases of rapid lake growth and terminal retreat, despite the contacting and calving still existing, the positions of the calving lines may be balanced by the positive advances of the ice tongue. We have observed several lakes with stagnation of growth or even shrinkage in lake area as the advance of the calving ice margin. The heterogeneous status of these ice-contacted glacial lakes are mainly due to the different local geomorphology (e. g., slope, lake-basin shape and valley aspect) and glacier characters (e. g., debris cover, velocity and mass balance). These related factors are important for both the prediction of lake and glacier changes and the evaluation of GLOF hazards in the future.