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The 24 July 2008 outburst flood at the western Zyndan glacier lake and recent regional changes in glacier lakes of the Teskey Ala-Too range, Tien Shan, Kyrgyzstan

DOI: 10.5194/nhess-10-647-2010

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Abstract:

On 24 July 2008, a glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF) occurred at the western (w-) Zyndan glacier lake in the Tong District of Ysyk-K l Oblast, Kyrgyzstan. The flood killed three people and numerous livestock, destroyed infrastructure, and devastated potato and barley crops as well as pastures. Tuurasuu village and a downstream reservoir on the Zyndan river escaped heavy damage because the main flood was diverted toward the Tong river. RTK-GPS and satellite data (Landsat 7 ETM+, ALOS/PRISM, and ALOS/AVNIR-2) reveal that the flood reduced the lake area from 0.0422 km2 to 0.0083 km2, discharging 437 000 m3 of water. This glacier lake was not present in a Landsat 7 ETM+ image taken on 26 April 2008. It formed rapidly over just two and half months from early May to the late July, when large amounts of snow and glacier melt water became trapped in a basin in the glacier terminus area, blocked by temporary closure of the drainage channel through the terminal moraine that included much dead-ice. In the same mountain region, most other glacier-lake expansions were not particularly large during the period from 1999–2008. Although events like the w-Zyndan glacier lake outburst occur infrequently in the high Central Asian mountains, such fast developing, short-lived lakes are particularly dangerous and not easy to monitor using satellite data. Appropriate measures to protect against such lake outburst hazards in this region include educating residents on glacier hazards and monitoring techniques, providing frequently updated maps of glacier lakes, and planning and monitoring land-use, including house locations.

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