Image courtesy of Adam Emmer

Glacial Lakes of Peru (#projectGLOP) is a Newton-Paulet Funded research project implemented by NERC and CONCYTEC, aiming to contribute to an understanding of glacier retreat in Peru, and its impact on natural hazards.

Fig 1: Global annual air temperature anomalies (1961–1990; Hartmann et al., 2013, p. 187).

Over the 20th and 21st centuries, temperature has been increasing (Fig. 1). This has resulted in widespread glacial recession which is important in areas such as Peru. Glacial recession has been implicated in an increase in the number and size of moraine-dammed lakes since the end of the Little Ice Age.

Glacier lakes can occur in, under, beside and/or in front of a glacier where water is trapped behind ice, moraines and/or rock dams (Fig. 2); providing an important water resource and source of hydroelectric power in areas such as Peru.

Fig 2: a) Ice, b) moraine and c) rock-dammed glacier lakes (Wilson et al., 2018, p. 279).

Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) is a term used to describe the sudden release of water retained in a glacial lake; irrespective of trigger, mechanism (i.e. dam failure or overtopping) and lake type (e.g. moraine dammed). GLOFs are considered to be the largest and most extensive glacial hazard in terms of disaster and damage potential (Wang and Zhou, 2017). In Peru alone, GLOFs have resulted in almost 30,000 deaths since 1941 (Carey, 2005).

#projectGLOP is a collaboration between researchers in the UK and Peru to try to better understand these hazards across Peru.

References cited

Carey, M. (2005). Living and dying with glaciers: people’s historical vulnerability to avalanches and outburst floods in Peru. Global and Planetary Change, 47(2-4), 122-134.
Hartmann, D.L. et al. (2013). Observations: Atmosphere and Surface. In: Climate Change 2013: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Stocker, T.F., D. Qin, G.-K. Plattner, M. Tignor, S.K. Allen, J. Boschung, A. Nauels, Y. Xia, V. Bex and P.M. Midgley (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA.
Wilson, R., Glasser, N.F., Reynolds, J.M., Harrison, S., Anacona, P.I., Schaefer, M. and Shannon, S. (2018). Glacial lakes of the Central and Patagonian Andes. Global and Planetary Change, 162, 275-291.
Wang, S. and Zhou, L. (2017). Glacial lake outburst flood disasters and integrated risk management in China. International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, 8(4), 493-497.