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Disaster Prevention and Mitigation

Study on GLOFs (Glacial Lake Outburst Floods) in the Bhutan Himalayas Protecting the Land of Happiness from Glacial Lake Outbursts: A Disaster Resulting from Climate Change

Principal Investigator (Affiliation) Prof. NISHIMURA KouichiGraduate School of Environmental Studies, Nagoya University
Collaborators Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Earth System Science Co., Ltd. (ESS)
Adoption fiscal year FY2008
Research Period 3 Years
ODA Recipient Country Kingdom of Bhutan
Counterpart Research Institutions Department of Geology and Mines in the Ministry of Economic Affairs (DGM), etc.
General Description of the Research Project

First in the world to develop scientific approaches to glacial lake outburst
There have been concerns in Bhutan and Nepal in recent years about the danger of glacial lake outburst floods resulting from the effects of climate change. To deal with this issue, satellite images are being analyzed to assess the degree of danger posed by glacial lakes. If a glacial lake is assessed as posing a danger, researchers will actually visit that lake and conduct surveys of the surrounding area and measure the water depth. They will also focus on the moraine* that is damming up the glacial lake, analyzing its internal structure and then conducting flood simulations in order to prepare a hazard map and construct an early warning system.
* Moraine: accumulation of stones and gravel carried by glaciers

Demonstration of the effectiveness of Japanese satellites; outburst measures will be expanded on a global scale
As of November 2010, approximately 60% of the glacial lakes within Bhutan had been identified and analyzed, demonstrating that Japan’s Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) is very effective for analysis. The results of the study raise the possibility that there are more glacial lakes than predicted, and the study provided material for use in determining exactly which glacial lakes pose a danger. These results indicate the importance of worldwide measures to deal with glacial lake outbursts.

Photo gallery
Children in a mountain village

Children in a mountain village

Meeting between Bhutanese and Japanese researchers

Meeting between Bhutanese and Japanese researchers

Study of a glacial lake at 5,000 m elevation. In addition to rowing out in a rubber dinghy to measure the water depth, the researchers checked for factors that cause lake outburst, studied the strength of the moraine and so on.

Study of a glacial lake at 5,000 m elevation. In addition to rowing out in a rubber dinghy to measure the water depth, the researchers checked for factors that cause lake outburst, studied the strength of the moraine and so on.

Automatic weather station on dam body of a glacial lake (EL. 5300 m)

Automatic weather station on dam body of a glacial lake (EL. 5300 m). The station has recorded snow depth and various data regarding the consideration of glacial mass balance, as well as air temperature and precipitation.

Research Project HP http://www.cryoscience.net/index_e.html
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