A major part of the snow and ice mass of the Hindu-Kush Himalaya (HKH) region in Pakistan is concentrated in the watersheds of the Indus basin. As a result of rapidly changing climatic conditions, the glaciers in Pakistan are receding at a rate of almost 40 – 60 meters per decade. The melting ice from these glaciers is increasing the volume of water in the glacial lakes. According to the IPCC’S fourth assessment report, eleven of the last twelve years (1995 – 2006) rank among the 12 warmest years of in the history of global surface record since 1850. This rapid change in the world’s temperatures is related with a faster rate of glacier melt.
Various studies suggest that the warming trend in the HKH region has been greater than the global average. The most severe threat of this effect is related to the rapid melting of glaciers. As these glaciers retreat, glacial lakes start to form and rapidly fill up behind natural moraine or ice dams at the bottom or on top of these glaciers. The ice or sediment bodies that contain the lakes can breach suddenly, leading to a discharge of huge volumes of water and debris. These are termed Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and have the potential to release millions of cubic meters of water and debris, with peak flows as high as 15,000 cubic meters per second.
During a GLOF, the V-shaped canyons of a normally small mountain stream can suddenly develop into an extremely turbulent and fast-moving torrent, some 50 meters deep. On a floodplain, inundation becomes somewhat slower, spreading as much as 10 kilometers wide. Both scenarios present horrific threats to lives, livelihoods, infrastructure and economic assets for the exposed population. Mountain communities living in the proximity of glacier lakes and glacier fed rivers are particularly at risk, as they live in remote and marginalized areas and depend heavily on fragile eco-systems for their livelihoods.
To address these increased risks posed by climate change, this project will develop the human and technical capacity of public institutions to understand and address immediate GLOF risks for vulnerable communities in Northern Pakistan. In addition, it will enable vulnerable local communities in northern areas of Pakistan to better understand and respond to GLOF risks and thereby adapt to growing climate change pressures.
There are no related resources for this project.