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Photo story: Draining Nepal’s dangerous glacier lake

The Nepal government announced it had finished draining the Imja glacier lake in Everest region on November 23.

Imja lake was in danger of flooding villages, bridges and trekking trails downstream. Imja lake is one of the six highly dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal.

It took more than six months for about 150 people including 40 military personnel and local Sherpas to construct an outlet and release almost four million cubic metres of water. The water level of lake–originally 149 metres deep – fell by 3.4 metres.

 

Local Monk from Everest region perform religious retuals during the completion ceromony of much-awaited Imja Lake Lowering Project. 23 November 2016
(Above) Local monks from the Everest region perform religious rituals during the completion ceremony of the Imja Lake Lowering Project on November 23, 2016. (Opener) Imja is one of the biggest glacial lakes in the Everest region. Located at an altitude of 5,010 meters above sea level, the lake has increased to 1.28 square kilometres and 150 metres deep since 1960.

 

The controlled exit cannel built by Nepal Army in Imja Glacial Lake. The lowering project has tried its best to use locally available materials to make the cannel. Everest Region, Solukhumbu District Nepal.
The controlled exit channel built by Nepal Army in the lake. The lowering project has tried its best to use locally available materials to make the channel.

 

Nang thume Sherpa, member of Task Force for Glacial Lake Outburst Flood risk reduction shows the early warning system intslled in Fakding Village Solukhumbu, District Nepal. The early warning sytem will get autmated warning message from Automated Hydromet Sensor installed in Imja Glacial Lake.
Nang Thume Sherpa, member of the task force for Glacial Lake Outburst Flood Risk Reduction shows the early warning system installed in Phakding village, Solukhumbu. The early warning system will get automated warning messages from the Automated Hydromet Sensor installed in Imja glacial lake.

 

Ajit Rai and his wife Ranjita Rai works as labourer in Dengboche Village, the way to Imja Glacier and Everest Base Camp. Ajit Says, " Last year a small flash flood tiggred from other glaicial lake that mixed with imja river, althrough ,it only destroyed one bridge near Dengboche, it has made me to think more about safety of my family". Solukhumbu District, Nepal.
Ajit Rai and his wife Ranjita Rai work as labourers in Dingboche Village, on the way to the Imja glacier and Everest Base Camp. ” Last year, a small flash flood triggered from other glacial lakes mixed with Imja river,”  Ajit says. “Although, it only destroyed one bridge near Dingboche, it has made me to think more about safety of my family.”

 

Kalma Lama, from lukla, runs a shop in Dengboche. She is happy that the risk from the lake is lowered by lowering the water level of Imja by 3.4m. She is here in Imja Lake today to attend the completion ceremony of much-awaited Imja Lake Lowering Project. 23 November 2016. She has already experience samall glacial lake outburst flood that tiggred from Lotse Glacier last summer. She says, " Althrough there was no lose the flow of flood in the Imja River was terrifiying. Imja Lake, Everest Region, Dolakha District Nepal
Kalma Lama, attends the completion ceremony of the Imja Lake Lowering Project on November 23, 2016. Originally from Lukla, Lama runs a shop in Dingboche. Having experienced small glacial lake outburst floods that triggered from Lhotse glacier last summer, Lama is happy that the risk from Imja lake has been lowered by lowering the water level by 3.4m.

 

Smoke emited from a hotel in Debuche as the sun sets in Mt. Everest is reftected in the glass of dianning room. The smoke comes from the heating system for the dianning room. Recent study has shown that black carbon from such smoke is also cause for faster retreat of glaciers in Himalaya Region. Solukhumbu District, Nepal.
Smoke emits from a hotel in Debuche, as the sun sets over Mt. Everest. The smoke comes from the heating system for the dining room. Recent study has shown that black carbon from such smoke is also a cause for faster retreat of glaciers in the Himalayan region.

 

Nepal has thousands of glacier lakes. Many of these are filling up fast because of warming temperatures and melting glaciers.

Glacier lakes have burst their banks 24 times in Nepal since the 1960s, three of which were in the Dhud Koshi river basin in the Everest region.

The Nepal government set up flood risk reduction project, supported by the Global Environment Facility and United Nations Development Programme. Early warning systems have been installed in six settlements on the Everest trekking trails to send flood warnings to people downstream.

Tourists have suggested the government shift trails on Everest to higher places so trekkers and porters climbing the mountain are safe from potential glacier lake floods.■

(This story was first published on The Third Pole.)

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See also

Nowhere to go: Pastoral nomads of Nepali mid-hills

In Photos: As the flagship trek to the Himalayas, Everest is ready to welcome visitors

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