Lake over Shisper glacier unleashes massive outburst of flood in Hunza

Massive glacial flood warning issued for GB, K-P

Shabbir Hussain May 08, 2022
Officials say delay in funding for GLOF project may jeopardise four years gains of the project. PHOTO: PPI


As the heatwave leaves the nation sweltering, a glacial lake over Shisper glacier unleashed a massive outburst of flood on Saturday in Hunza and a few more lakes were created, The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) revealed.

The ICIMOD said that the size of the glacial lake was 15 per cent bigger than the size recorded for the past three years at the pre-outburst level of the glacial lake.

It said the glacial lake outburst flood in Hunza was mainly triggered due to abrupt temperature rise in the northern areas.
The ICIMOD stated that in the past 20 days, the water volume has increased by 40 per cent in the Shisper glacier lake due to the unusual melting of the glaciers.

According to Dr Zaheer Ahmed Babar, spokesperson for the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), directives have been issued to the local administration, concerned agencies and the local population to remain alert and take precautionary measures.

Security arrangements are being undertaken in 24 districts of Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa through a programme funded by UNDP to deal with the potential dangers of glacial lakes and keep the local population safe.

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As a result of global warming, rapidly melting glaciers have created more than 3,000 glacial lakes in Gilgit-Baltistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Thirty-three of these could burst at any moment.

The unseasonably warm spell and unusual heat during the daytime hours will potentially put the localities with fast-shrinking glaciers at the risk of sudden and enormous outburst floods, warned the Pakistan Meteorological Department on Saturday.

In the wake of the off-the-charts rise in temperatures, the Meteorological Department sounded alarms for localities particularly situated near the waterways and rivers in Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).

The heat could trigger anomalous drainage from the snowpack which could lead to an eruption of glacial meltwater lakes, it said in its alert, saying there was a possibility of glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) events and flash floods.

The water from the glaciers is anticipated to overwhelm the existing lakes with an unsustainable water supply, potentially sending torrents of water coursing downstream, affecting many areas of G-B and K-P.

The department forecasted that the temperature in Gilgit-Baltistan could rise by seven to nine Celsius higher than normal during the next five to six days.

It has also sent a copy of the GOLF alert to all the concerned agencies, the National Disaster Management Authority’s chairman and DGs of both the provincial PDMs.


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