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Growth and drainage of supraglacial lakes on debrismantled Ngozumpa Glacier, Khumbu Himal, Nepal

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Ablation of debris-mantled glaciers in Nepal has resulted in the formation of several potentially unstable moraine-dammed lakes, some of which constitute serious hazards. Ngozumpa Glacier, Khumbu Himal, has undergone significant downwasting in recent decades, and is believed to lie close to the threshold for moraine-dammed lake formation. The debris-mantled ablation area of the glacier is studded with numerous supraglacial lakes, the majority of which occupy closed basins with no perennial connections to the englacial drainage system ("perched lakes''). Perched lakes can undergo rapid growth by subaerial and water-line melting of exposed ice faces, and calving. Subaerial and subaqueous melting beneath thick(>1m) debris mantles is comparatively insignificant. Although lake expansion can contribute substantially to ablation of the glacier, perched lakes cannot continue to grow indefinitely, but are subject to rapid drainage once a connection is made to englacial conduits. The level of one of the lakes on the Ngozumpa, however, is controlled by the altitude of a spillway through the lateral moraine of the glacier. This lake underwent only limited growth in the period 1998-2000, but is likely to experience monotonic growth if glacier mass balance continues to be negative.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2001

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  • The Journal of Glaciology is published six times per year. It accepts submissions from any discipline related to the study of snow and ice. All articles are peer reviewed. The Journal is included in the ISI Science Citation Index.
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