Glacial lake outburst floods threaten millions globally

Taylor, Caroline, Robinson, Tom R., Dunning, Stuart, Carr, J. Rachel and Westoby, Matt (2023) Glacial lake outburst floods threaten millions globally. Nature Communications, 14 (1). p. 487. ISSN 2041-1723

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Glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) represent a major hazard and can result in significant loss of life. Globally, since 1990, the number and size of glacial lakes has grown rapidly along with downstream population, while socio-economic vulnerability has decreased. Nevertheless, contemporary exposure and vulnerability to GLOFs at the global scale has never been quantified. Here we show that 15 million people globally are exposed to impacts from potential GLOFs. Populations in High Mountains Asia (HMA) are the most exposed and on average live closest to glacial lakes with ~1 million people living within 10 km of a glacial lake. More than half of the globally exposed population are found in just four countries: India, Pakistan, Peru, and China. While HMA has the highest potential for GLOF impacts, we highlight the Andes as a region of concern, with similar potential for GLOF impacts to HMA but comparatively few published research studies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)- funded ONE Planet Doctoral Training Partnership [NE/S007512/1]. We thank Professor Andy Large and Dr Jon Telling for their critical reading and suggestions for the manuscript.
Subjects: F700 Ocean Sciences
F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Elena Carlaw
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2023 10:37
Last Modified: 10 Feb 2023 10:45

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