Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) Research Project (Asia Program and South America Program – Nepal and Peru)

Between October 4 and November 18 2009, TMI, in partnership with Hokkaido University, Japan, the
International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal, and the American
Alpine Club (AAC), launched a 35-day scientific field expedition to the remote Hongu valley of
Makalu-Barun National Park. The goal of the expedition was to scientifically assess the condition of
nine glacial lakes that have grown significantly over the past 20 years as a result of global warming
and climate change. These lakes are usually contained by terminal moraines forming dams of loose
boulders and soil, presenting an associated risk of glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF) that can result
in the destruction of downstream farmland, infrastructure, and villages. Team members conducted
detailed assessments of each lake‘s history, physical characteristics, water volume, growth rates,
potential for catastrophic outburst, and prospective mitigation methods. Resulting data and insights
will be shared with the Government of Nepal and the scientific community in forthcoming publications
and workshops.
As a result of the expedition, a $3-5 million proposal is being prepared for submission to the National
Science Foundation, Water Sustainability and Climate Change program in partnership with the
University of Texas-Austin (Hydrology Dept), Hokkaido University (glaciology) and TMI (Byers as
physical geographer, Jorge Recharte as anthropologist/social scientist).