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A Global Assessment of Future Risk for Glacier-Related Hazards

Project Description

A variety of projection studies forecast significant mass loss of glaciers in regions for which populations rely on meltwater for subsistence, agriculture, infrastructure and commercial operations1. Living in the proximity of glaciers and meltwater raises the possibility of a number of potentially devastating hazard-related risks, including floods, droughts, lake outbursts, and landslides. While numerous studies have investigated the drivers and mechanisms of glacier-related hazards at local to catchment scalee.g.2-3, few studies attempt to forecast future hazard risk, and no global-scale assessment has yet been attempted. With significant populations, existing and planned infrastructure, and therefore medium to high hazard risk in the glaciated mountains of Europe, North America (including Alaska), Iceland, Scandinavia, New Zealand, South America, and Central and High Mountain Asia (Himalayas), there is now a strong need for an integrated assessment of global hazard risk.

This project will summarise existing global hazard risk from glaciated regions, with specific focus on the more heavily populated European Alps, South American Andes, Tropics, and Central and High Mountain Asia regions. Output of global glacier melt model intercomparisons will be used to investigate future hazard scenarios using climate-meltwater projections, existing topographic constraints and predictions of landscape and lake development. These outputs will provide a package of risk constraints for local stakeholders, regional and national governments, NGOs and commercial operators to incorporate into future planning and adaptation strategies.

Funding Notes

CENTA studentships are for 3.5 years and are funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In addition to the full payment of their tuition fees, successful candidates will receive the following financial support.
• Annual stipend, set at £15,009 for 2019/20
• Research training support grant (RTSG) of £8,000


1. Shannon, S. et al. (2019) Global glacier volume projections under high-end climate-change scenarios. The Cryosphere, 13, 325-350, doi:10.5194/tc-13-325-2019.
2. Drenkhan, F. et al. (2019) Managing risk and future options from new lakes in the deglaciating Andes of Peru: The example of the Vilcanota-Urumbamba basin. Science of the Total Environment, 665, 465-483, doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.02.070.
3. Cook, S. et al. (2016) Glacier change and glacial lake outburst flood risk in the Bolivian Andes. The Cryosphere, 10, 2399-2413, doi:10.5194/tc-10-2399-2016.
4. Cauvy-Fraunie, S. et al. (2013) Technical note: Glacial influence in tropical mountain hydrosystems evidenced by the diurnal cycle in water levels. Hydrology and Earth System Science, 17, 4803-4816, doi:10.5194/hess-17-4803-2013.
5. Mackay, J.D., Barrand, N.E. et al. (2019) Future evolution and uncertainty of river flow regime change in a deglaciating river basin. Hydrology and Earth System Science, 23, 1833-1865,
6. Natural Environment Reseach Council (2019) Most Wanted II, Postgraduate and Professional Skills Needs in the Environmental Sector. policy/skillsreview/2012/most-wanted2-report/ [accessed 28-10-2019].

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