Islamabad: Surge of the Khurdopin Glacier in Hunza’s Shimshal Valley, and formation of a lake, has emerged as a major cause of concern from the locals.
The advancing Khurdopin Glacier’s tongue has pushed across the floor and touched opposite headwall of the main valley, blocking the Viržərav River, forming a lake.
“There is of course no certainty in what will happen next. However the lake will definitely drain very fast again in future, this will happen again and again in years and decades to come,” wrote Jakob F Steiner, a PhD candidate in Geosciences at the Universiteit Utrecht, when contacted by Pamir Times for a comment on the future of the supra-glacial lake.
Jakob has also co-authored a detailed study about the latest surge of the Khurdopin Glacier. DOWNLOAD STUDY
“There is no way this glacier is suddenly going to change its behavior. Luckily, we know from past events when and approximately how it will happen. Now for another two years the chances are high that there will be big drainage events especially in summer when a lot of melt water accumulates and the temperatures are high enough to carve a tunnel through the ice. For this reason we are trying to work on better early warning (or better to say, Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) is doing that), we support them where we can”, he added.
“While it [the lake] also fills right now, it is likely that the tunnel is mainly frozen. We will monitor it daily to observe any extreme changes. We measure the area and volume of the lake from satellite images. If there is a sudden change from one day to the next chances are high that something structurally has changed and that in subsequent days a strong drainage will occur. Through AKAH we can inform locals.”
He further wrote that generally the risk will be higher again in later spring/summer.
“We are hoping to train locals in an assessment with new techniques (checking satellite images is faster and safer then trekking there) and possible more tools like mapping where flood waters are likely to reach with given volumes.”