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Moraine-dammed lake distribution and outburst flood risk in the Chinese Himalaya

  • Wang Shijin (a1), Qin Dahe (a1) and Xiao Cunde (a1)

To better understand the risk of disasters due to glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), we synthetically analyze the spatial distribution and evolution of moraine-dammed lakes and potentially dangerous glacial lakes (PDGLs) in the Chinese Himalaya. Our county-based assessment of GLOF disaster risk combines PDGL outburst hazard, regional exposure, vulnerability of exposed elements and adaptation capability (risk management) using the analytic hierarchy process. We synthetically analyze the disaster risk using the weighted comprehensive method. Remote-sensing data show there are 329 moraine-dammed lakes (>0.02 km2; total area 125.43 km2) in the Chinese Himalaya, of which 116 (total area 49.49 km2) are identified as PDGLs. The zones at highest risk of GLOF disaster are mainly located in Nyalam, Tingri, Dinggyê, Lhozhag, Kangmar and Zhongba, in the mid-eastern Himalaya. Lowest-risk zones are located in the eastern Himalaya. On the county scale, Lhozhag and Lhunze have the highest hazard degrees and exposure, while Zhongba and Zando have the highest degree of vulnerability and lowest adaptation capacity. Our regionalization results for GLOF disaster risk are consistent with the distribution of historical disaster sites across the Chinese Himalaya.

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Correspondence: Wang Shijin <>
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