Sunday May 19, 2024

Shishper lake threat scenarios

April 17, 2022

ISLAMABAD:The Gilgit Baltistan Disaster Management Authority (GBDMA) has beefed up preparedness measures in the wake of looming glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) threat due to rising temperatures amid heatwaves.

The GBDMA officials confirmed that there was less impact of the prevailing heatwave on the melting Shisper Glacier falling in the vicinity of Hassanabad village of Hunza.

The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) in its situation report sent to the GBDMA informed that if the prevailing weather conditions and temperature prevailed then the glacial lake water, which is very small at present, would drain out by the end of April or first week of May, the GBDMA Deputy Director told APP.

He said if the lake size swelled then the glacial lake formed at the Shisper Glacier might burst due to the expected rise in temperatures in the valley.

To a question, he said keeping in view the prevailing situation and expected glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) the GBDMA teams were well prepared and trained to carry out community sensitization, local population's relocation and food stockpiling 10 days ahead of the Met Office's threat alert of GLOF.

Sher Mohammad of International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) said that the Shisper Glacier started surging in 2018 and has breached thrice from 2019 to 2020. He said continuous monitoring was key to develop well informed preparedness plans and contingency measures to avoid massive life and property loss during the insurmountable natural hazard.

"The area of the lake is > 0.22 sq km (greater than 0.22 square kilometers) as of 31st March, it previously outburst when the lake area reached 0.34 sq km," Sher said. He added that the Shisper Glacier since the beginning of its surge in 2018 was infrequent and unmatched in its melting behaviour that made it more dangerous.

He informed that the Glacier had a history of ice-damned lake which lead to its breaches at three different occasions, whereas the glacial lake burs after reaching its maximum size of 0.34 sq. km.

During the breaches, the GLOF led to partial damage to Karakoram Highway and inflicted minor infrastructure damages downstream.