Catastrophic glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) pose a risk to life and can cause significant damage to downstream infrastructure, settlements, and property in mountainous regions. GLOF frequency is anticipated to increase in coming decades and into the next century as lakes develop and expand, and become increasingly exposed to climate-related triggers (e.g. ice-cored moraine degradation, permafrost thaw-induced rock avalanches). The current generation of Earth observation (EO), such as satellite InSAR, are well suited for improving the robustness and spatial resolution of lake hazard assessments, which this project will explore. The project will focus on existing glacial lakes in the Nepal Himalaya, including Tsho Rolpa (27.86° N, 86.48° E), the largest glacial lake in Nepal, where remediation work, including the construction of a gated outlet channel and reduction of the lake level, was carried out to mitigate the risk of dam overtopping or breaching. However, it remains classified as one of the most critical lakes in Nepal. Specifically, this project will: 1. Carry out comprehensive desk- and field-based studies of selected lakes and their catchments to understand lake and hazard evolution and benchmark their current condition. 2. Develop algorithms for automatic landscape change detection (e.g. slope deformation), and develop and deploy tools for continuous, in situ field monitoring. 3. Integrate physical measurements with state-of-the-art GLOF simulation models to assess GLOF hazard and downstream risk under a range of climate- and dam-failure scenarios. The candidate will benefit from access to data from an ongoing NERC-funded project (WeACT), which seeks to improve natural dam-burst flood hazard assessment and forecasting. The project will be supported by local research partners. The candidate will receive training in both remote sensing and GLOF simulation techniques, besides the training from the DTP. The industrial partner, Reynolds International Ltd, has extensive and unparalleled archive material and experience of working at Tsho Rolpa since 1994.
This project is part of the ONE Planet DTP. Find out more here: View Website