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Glacial Lakes Variation and the Potentially Dangerous Glacial Lakes in the Pumqu Basin of Tibet during the Last Two Decades

CHE Tao, JIN Rui, LI Xin, WU Li-zong (Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou Gansu 730000, China)  
Along with glacier retreating due to global warming, more and more meltwater cumulates in glacial lakes, resulting in expansion of lake surface. Rapid accumulation of water in glacial lakes, particularly in those lakes adjacent to retreating glaciers, can lead to a sudden outburst of the unstable dams in front of the lakes. The glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) often has catastrophic effect on downstream regions. The GLOF causes many dangers to local people, as well as to houses, bridges, fields, forests and roads. The lakes at risk are situated in remote and inaccessible areas. Remote sensing provides a feasible method to monitor these glacial lakes. Satellite images (ASTER) acquired in 2000/2001 were interpreted and compared with the report of the First Expedition to Glaciers and Glacier lakes in the Pumqu and Poiqu River Basins, Xizang (Tibet), China. The final results have shown that there are 225 glacial lakes with a total area of 1,062 km+2, and there are 24 glacial lakes were identified as the potentially dangerous lakes in the Pumqu basin. It provides the basic information for GLOF mitigation measures, as well as for their monitoring and establishing an early warning system.
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