There’s a growing threat in the mountains thanks to climate change: glacial lake outburst floods

There’s a growing threat in the mountains thanks to climate change: glacial lake outburst floods


Imagine a whole lake rushing down a mountain at once, carrying ice and rocks along with it. This is the reality of a lesser known threat in the high mountains, one that grows more common as the climate changes. This is a glacial lake outburst flood. Global temperatures are rising, and glaciers are melting worldwide. The melting creates feebly dammed glacial lakes that can violently burst. The resulting floods can devastate downstream communities. Many people live in the shadows of a glacier, especially in the Himalayas, the Andes and here, in the Swiss Alps. According to a recent study, glacial floods have killed over 12,000 people worldwide – in Central Asia, South America, the European Alps and Iceland. These events are rapid and unpredictable. There is often little or no warning when a dammed glacial lake may burst. Researchers like Fabian Walter are racing against time and a warming climate to understand these events. Walter spent his Ph.D. studies here at Switzerland’s second-largest glacial area, Gornergletscher. We were studying a lake which no longer exists, and we were studying the phenomenon of glacial lake drainages. This is really the one natural hazard that’s related to glaciers that’s probably the most feared, because it’s very hard to predict this, to even assess the danger. It’s a big field in glaciology. The natural dams that hold glacial lakes are unstable, so a small break can quickly become a gaping hole. The lakes are generally dammed by ice or a moraine, which is a pile of rocks and soil left behind by a moving glacier. In either case, flowing water carries dam material with it and continuously widens the break. This means even a small disturbance, like heavy rainfall or a splash from a fallen chunk of ice, could trigger a massive flood. While a glacial flood typically destroys a moraine dam, ice dams often close back up and can break again. These ice-dammed lakes may even drain and refill cyclically. This is a very difficult phenomena to predict. And that’s why we spent several years here looking at a particular ice-marginal lake which was an ideal study site because it drained every summer. and we tried to understand the physics behind these drainages better. Scientists like Walter are learning how to read the signs of an imminent flood and give threatened communities time to prepare for the deluge. Other experts take different approaches to flood mitigation. Some have partially drained glacial lakes. Others have reinforced existing natural dams with stone and concrete. The pressure is on because our changing climate increases the risk of glacial floods. These glaciated mountain faces were more or less stable. And now, with climate change, the whole stability is changing. These changes remind Walter of how humans have impacted nature but also of how nature will impact us going forward. Nature is—in the end, it’s much more powerful than we, as humans, are. When you see how much these glaciers have melted in the recent years or decades, it’s a reminder that we need to take better care of our planet.

15 thoughts on “There’s a growing threat in the mountains thanks to climate change: glacial lake outburst floods

  1. Genuine question what happened to global cooling, they said if we didn't stop fucking with the climate the next ice age would start? Anyone remember that from early school, it just kinda stopped being talked about and then all of a sudden it was warming? Also the abysmal track record of all climate models outside of the Russian one? I'm genuinely confused

  2. The end game of the climate change alarmism are massive increases in taxes, wealth redistribution and globalist socialism.

  3. Ну заебись хоть Сибирь оттает и северные порты будут пригодны весь год

  4. 1970's: "Ice Age in 10 Years"
    1980's: "Acid rain will destroy all crops in 10 Years"
    1990's: "Ozone layer will be destroyed in 10 Years"
    2000's: "Global warming will destroy all ice caps in 10 Years"
    2010's: "Climate Change will cause sea levels to sink coastal regions in 10 years"
    2020's: "Blah blah, blah blah blah"

  5. Funny how you people call each other ignorant when you only have a fractional understanding of one another's views; Speaks volumes.

  6. It will be great when we finaly get rid of all these terrible glaciers and get out of this ice age. Glaciers kill!

  7. CLIMATE CHANGE? Genesis 8 : 22 (KJV) While the {“earth remaineth”}, (“seedtime and harvest”), and (“cold and heat”), and (“summer and winter”), and (“day and night”) {“shall not cease.”} 2 Timothy 3 : 1 (KJV) This know also, that {“in the last days perilous times shall come.”} Rev. 16 : 8 – 9 (KJV) 8 And the (“fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun”); and power was given unto him to {“scorch men with fire.”} 9 And men were {“scorched with great heat”}, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and {“they repented not”} to give him glory. God also warned you about the science falsely so called.

    Luke 21 : 25 – 26 (KJV) 25 And there shall be {“signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations”}, [changes in the sun; sun spots, coronal holes, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, etc.] (“with perplexity”); {“the sea and the waves roaring”}; [Solar winds; solar storms, tropical storms/depressions, hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones, tsunamis!] 26 Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are (“coming on the earth”): for the {“powers of heaven shall be shaken.”}

    2 Peter 3 : 10 (KJV) But the day of the Lord will come as a {“thief in the night”}; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the {“elements shall melt with fervent heat”}, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. [Wickedness!] Psalm 46 : 1 – 3 (KJV) 1 God is our refuge and strength, a (“very present help in trouble.”) [The time of Jacob’s trouble!] 2 Therefore (“will not”) we fear, though the {“earth be removed”}, [meteors] and though the {“mountains be carried into the midst of the sea”}; [Earthquakes; uplifts/drops, and landslides.] 3 Though the {“waters thereof roar and be troubled”}, [various storms, tsunamis, etc.] though the {“mountains shake with the swelling thereof.”} [Volcanoes!] Selah.

    IT’S NOT THE OIL THAT IS THE PROBLEM! IT IS THE ABUSE OF THE RESOURCES AND EXCESSIVE GREED; THAT IS THE PROBLEM! Obadiah Verses 1 – 6 (KJV) 1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning {“Edom”}; [Esau is Edom!] We have heard a rumour from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle. 2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.

    3 The {“pride of thine heart”} hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, {“Who shall bring me down to the ground?”} 4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, {“thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.”} 5 {“If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough?”} (“if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?”) 6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!

    Jeremiah 49 : 7 – 12 (KJV) 7 Concerning {“Edom”}, thus saith the Lord of hosts; Is wisdom no more in Teman? is counsel perished from the prudent? is their wisdom vanished? 8 Flee ye, turn back, dwell deep, O inhabitants of Dedan; for (“I will”) {“bring the calamity of Esau upon him, the time that I will visit him.”} 9 (“If grapegatherers come to thee, would they not leave some gleaning grapes?”) {“if thieves by night, they will destroy till they have enough.”)

    10 But (“I have”) {“made Esau bare, I have uncovered his secret places, and he shall not be able to hide himself”}: [E-Saudi Arabia!!!] his seed is spoiled, and his brethren, and his neighbours, and he is not. 11 Leave thy fatherless children, I will preserve them alive; and let thy widows trust in me. 12 For thus saith the Lord; Behold, {“they whose judgment was not to drink of the cup have assuredly drunken; and art thou he that shall altogether go unpunished?”} (“thou shalt not go unpunished, but thou shalt surely drink of it.”)

    PERPLEXITY: aporia: G640: from the same as G639; a (state of) quandary: – perplexity. The state of one who is in perplexity. G639: aporew: from the base of 4198; to have no way out, i.e. be at a loss (mentally): – (stand in ) doubt, be perplexed. To be without resources, to be in straits, to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn; to be at a loss with one's self; not to know how to decide or what to do.

    Inability to deal with or understand something complicated or unaccountable. An entangled state. A state of confusion or a complicated and difficult situation or thing. Noah Webster: Perplexed: made intricate; embarrassed; puzzled. Perplexedness: Intricacy; difficulty from want of order or precision. Embarrassment of mind from doubt or uncertainty. [Doubting God’s Word; and being willfully ignorant of the Word of God.]

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