May 31, 2012 Kathmandu – “Natural calamities are unstoppable and we never know when and how it comes but there is need to be prepared for it,” said Pradeep Mool, a glaciologist with Kathmandu-based International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in a recent interview with Xinhua.
Mool, who has researched the Bhotekoshi river which originates from Tibetan plateau for over a decade, said that the current global warming has threatened the Nepali villagers with glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF).
“When glacier starts melting, melted water will be trapped inside a natural dam which is very fragile, chances are high that the lake will burst out,” Mool said. Most recent flood in 1996 killed 54 people and destroyed houses, hydro power dam and roads.
In Bahrabise, a front-line village some 100 km northeast of the capital Kathmandu, people who still have reminiscence of the destruction are moving to the higher area. Amrit Lal Shrestha, 86, clearly remembers how the flash flood in 1981 had destructed the village and swept away his wife.
According to Mool, global warming with irregular pattern of rainfall has amplified the glacial retreat. In Nepal, the average temperature is rising by 0.06 degrees Celsius annually.
“The risk of GLOF events is increasing due to the atmospheric change as almost all glacier are changing,” Mool said. Mool added that GLOF is dangerous because it can sweep away the villages in the downstream area.
Narayan Lal Shrestha, 61, from the same village however said that there is need for early warning system so that they can escape untoward events.
Most of them are unaware of the fact that there will be GLOF anytime soon and they are not prepared for it as they don’t even know what GLOF is. The Nepali government had planned for installing the early warning system but nothing has been done so far.
As many as 20 glacial lakes have been identified and regarded as the ones which can outburst and cause flash floods.
The village of Bahrabise is at high risk of being swept away with nine such lakes on the verge of outburst, and there are many other small villages which confront similar threat.
Not to forget about the recent Himalayan glacier outburst at the base of Machchhapuchhre and Annapurna Mountain flooded seti rive and took 31 lives, more than 50 missing and several millions of rupees of property and cattle are lost including Pokhara valley drinking water reservoir at seti river bank in western Nepal.