Imja Lake, Nepal

Imja Lake in Nepal's Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park has received worldwide attention in recent years because of the threat it poses to communities downstream. Imja was a debris-covered glacier during the first half of the 20th century. Small meltwater ponds began forming in the terminus in the early 1960s, and in the decades that followed these ponds merged and continued to expand into an ever-growing lake as the glacier receded. Today, Imja Lake is 1 km2 in area and contains over 64 million m3 of water. Distressingly, it continues to grow in length at a rate of 35 m/yr and is considered by researchers to be among the three most dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal. Located above Nepal’s most popular trekking destination, thousands of trekkers, porters, local people, and livestock would be in danger of losing their lives, property, and livelihoods in the event of a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF).

The High Mountains Adaptation Partnership (HiMAP) has been actively studying the lake and sharing its knowledge with the local communities since 2011. We conducted the lake’s first bathymetric survey (which revealed the lake to be nearly twice the volume as was previously thought) and conducted the first ground-penetrating radar (GPR) survey of its terminal moraine (which revealed a previously unknown core of ice). We have also conducted the first detailed risk modeling of various scenarios for possible mitigation work on the moraine, with startling results.

This page lists a few of the reports produced by HiMAP members researching Imja Lake. More papers are being added.

Reports from the Center for Research in Water Resources: The CRWR is part of the Bureau of Engineering Research at the University of Texas at Austin; the work was carried out within the High Mountains Adaptation Partnership. PDFs will automatically download from the links.

Modeling Mitigation Strategies for Risk Reduction at Imja Lake, Nepal (600KB) (CRWR Online Report 13-06), by Marcelo A. Somos-Valenzuela, Daene C. McKinney, Alton C. Byers, David R. Rounce, and Cesar Portocarrero.

Bathymetric Survey of Imja Lake, Nepal in 2012 (1.8MB) (CRWR Online Report 12-06), by Marcelo A. Somos-Valenzuela, Daene C. McKinney, Alton C. Byers, David R. Rounce, and Cesar Portocarrero.

Ground Penetrating Radar Survey for Risk Reduction at Imja Lake, Nepal (4.5MB) (CRWR Online Report 12-03), by Marcelo A. Somos-Valenzuela, Daene C. McKinney, Alton C. Byers, David R. Rounce, and Cesar Portocarrero.

Papers presented to the Glacial Flooding and Disaster Risk Management Knowledge Exchange and Field Training workshop: Held in Huaraz, Peru, July 2013.

Tip: For easiest viewing, click the full-screen arrows, then scroll down. All papers are downloadable as PDFs (click the "sharing" arrow and choose "download"):

Physical process and engineering response papers:

Mitigation Strategies for Risk Reduction at Imja lake, Nepal, by Daene McKinney, University of Texas at Austin.

GLOF monitoring in Nepal, by Gautam Rajkarnikar, Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, Government of Nepal  [VIEW SLIDES]

Depicting community perspectives: Repeat photography and participatory research as tools for assessing environmental services in Sagarmatha (Mt. Everest) National Park, by Rodney Garrard (presented by Sonam Sherpa, Kathmandu University):  [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES] [VIEW POSTER]

Rates of change on Spillway Lake, Ngozumpa glacier, Nepal: 2000 - 2013, by Ulyana Horodyskyj, University of Colorado, Boulder [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES]

Ground-penetrating radar demonstration at Pastoruri Glacier, Peru [VIEW HANDOUT]

Scanning debris-covered glaciers and GLOFs in Khumbu, Nepal, by Jeffrey La Frenierre, Department of Geography and Byrd Polar Research Center, The Ohio State University

Community involvement papers:

Community-based climate change adaptation in the Mount Everest region of Nepal, by Ang Rita Sherpa and Ang Chiri Sherpa, The Mountain Institute  [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES]

Imja Lake risk reduction: Community-based, science-driven, by Alton Byers, The Mountain Institute:  [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES]

Beyond the Khumbu:

Investigation of the Seti River disaster (May 5, 2012) and assessment of past and future mountain hazards facing Pokhara, Nepal and upstream communities, by Dhananjay Regmi, Himalayan Research Expeditions [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES PART 1PART 2PART 3]

Building climate change resilience capacity of mountain people in Nepal, by Dinesh R Bhuju, Resources Himalaya Foundation: [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES] [VIEW POSTER]

Climate resilience in the eastern Himalayas: Integrated approaches to assessing vulnerability and developing adaptation strategies, by Ryan Bartlett and Sarah Freeman, WWF [READ TEXT] [VIEW SLIDES]

Papers presented to the Andean-Asian Mountains Global Knowledge Exchange On Glaciers, Glacial Lakes, Water & Hazard Management: Held in Kathmandu, 2011. All papers are bound in a 235-page PDF book that can be downloaded here (27MB) or click here to view online.

Glacial lakes of the Hinku & Hongu valleys, Makalu-Barun NP&BZ, Nepal, by A. Byers, et. al.

Climate change, glacial lake insecurity, and institutional capacity in the Khumbu Himalaya, by J. Bury, UCSC

Repeat photography for detecting landscape change in Sagarmatha (Everest) NP, Nepal, by R. Garrard, et. al.

Laser scanning debris-covered glaciers and GLOF hazard, Khumbu, Nepal, by J. La Frenierre, Ohio State University

Lessons from Imja Expedition 2011, by P. R. Maskey, Ministry of Irrigation, Nepal

Local perspectives on water resources, Khumbu, Nepal, by O. Puschiasis, Tribhuvan University

Community-based participatory research in Imja Valley in Nepal's Sagarmatha National Park, Solu Khumbu, Nepal, by A.R. Sherpa, The Mountain Institute.

GLOF risk mitigation of Tsho Rolpa: positive and negative aspects, by A. B. Shrestha, ICIMOD

Proposals to Imja Lake Field Expedition, by V.I. Shatravin, National Academy of Sciences, Kyrgyz Republic

Sounds of a glacier: applied acoustemology of Imja Lake expedition, by S. Spray

The Peruvian experience in treatment dangerous lakes and expedition to Imja Lake, Nepal, by C. Portocarrero, Glaciology Unit, Peru

Technical report on glacial lake risk management by HiMAP:

The Glacial Lake Handbook: Reducing Risk from Dangerous Glacial Lakes in the Cordillera Blanca, Peru, by C. Portocarrero, Glaciology Unit, Peru