Glacier Lake Outburst Floods
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Dr. Siddique Ullah Baig Explores Glacier Lake Outburst Floods in Gilgit Baltistan

The glaciers in the Hindu Kush, Himalayas, and Karakorum mountain ranges in northern Pakistan are melting quickly as a result of rising temperatures, and 3,044 glacial lakes have formed in the regions of Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP). It has been determined that 33 glacial lakes are at risk of dangerous glacial lake outburst flooding (GLOF). GLOFs are abrupt natural disasters that have the potential to dump millions of cubic meters of water and debris, causing death, property damage, and loss of livelihood for isolated and underdeveloped mountain communities. In GB and KP, there are about 7.1 million vulnerable individuals; of these, 26.7 percent and 22%, respectively, of the population live below the poverty line.

Enhancing public services to reduce the risk of disasters related to GLOFs, enhancing community preparedness and disaster response, and empowering communities to identify and manage risks associated with GLOFs and related impacts of climate change are the goals of GLOF-II, which expands on the pilot programs of GLOF-I. With an emphasis on women’s involvement in maintaining food security and livelihoods, the project will also assist the establishment of sustainable solutions for livelihoods in project areas.

Thirty-three of these glacial lakes are thought to be dangerous and prone to glacial lake outburst floods. Millions of cubic meters of water and debris can be released by such flooding in a matter of hours, causing fatalities, major damage to property and infrastructure, and serious disruptions to livelihoods in some of Pakistan’s most remote regions. Threats affect more than 7 million people in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Gilgit-Baltistan.

Risk will be decreased by early warning systems, engineering designs, and disaster management procedures, safeguarding nearby communities and supplying early notice of catastrophic flood disasters.

The goal of the 2017–2024 project, Scaling-up of Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) risk reduction in Northern Pakistan, is to lower risk by constructing 250 engineering structures, such as ponds, spillways, drainage systems, tree plantations, and dams. Simultaneously, the capacity to react swiftly to flood situations will be enhanced by the creation of disaster management plans and the installation of weather monitoring stations, flood gauges, hydrological models, and early warning systems.

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