As glaciers retreat, glacial lakes start to form and rapidly fill up behind natural moraines or ice dams at the bottom or on top of these glaciers. The ice or sediment bodies that contain the lakes can breach suddenly, leading to a discharge of huge volumes of water and debris.
These are termed glacier lake outburst floods (GLOF) and have the potential to release millions of cubic metres of water and debris, with peak flows as high as 15,000 cubic metres per second.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 24th, 2015.
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