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Title: Recent catastrophic landslide lake outburst floods in the Himalayan mountain range
Authors: Ruiz-Villanueva V.
Allen S.
Arora M.
Goel, Narendra Kumar
Stoffel M.
Published in: Progress in Physical Geography
Abstract: Among the more complex and devastating interactions between climate and hydromorphological processes in mountain environments are landslide lake outburst floods (LLOFs), resulting from mass movements temporarily blocking a drainage system. This work reviews these processes in the Himalayas and highlights the high frequency of this type of phenomenon in the region. In addition, we analyse two recent catastrophic trans-national LLOFs occurring in the Sutlej river basin during 2000 and 2005. Based on high resolution satellite images, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) derived evolution of snowline elevation and discharge data we reconstruct the timing and hydrometeorological conditions related to the formation and failure of landslide dams. Results showed that the 2005 flood, originating from the outburst of the Parchu Lake, was not related to heavy precipitation, but was likely enhanced by the rapid and late snowmelt of an unusually deep and widespread snowpack. The flood in 2000 was triggered by the outburst of an unnamed lake located on the Tibetan plateau, identified here for the first time. In this case, the outburst followed intense precipitation in the lake watershed, which raised the level of the lake and thus caused the breaching of the dam. As stream gauges were damaged during the events detailed discharge data is not available, but we estimated the peak discharges ranging between 1100 m3 s−1 and 2000 m3 s−1 in 2005, and 1024 m3 s−1 and 1800 m3 s−1 in 2000. These events caused significant geomorphic changes along the river valleys, with observed changes in channel width exceeding 200 m. Results also demonstrate that remotely-sensed data enables valuable large-scale monitoring of lake development and related hydrometeorological conditions, and may thereby inform early warning strategies, and provide a basis for flood risk reduction measures that focus on disaster preparedness and response strategies. © 2016, © The Author(s) 2016.
Citation: Progress in Physical Geography (2017), 41(1): 3-28
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
Keywords: Extreme flood
lake outburst
ISSN: 3091333
Author Scopus IDs: 35604536100
Author Affiliations: Ruiz-Villanueva, V.,, University of Bern, Switzerland
Allen, S., University of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland
Arora, M., National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India
Goel, N.K., National Institute of Hydrology, Roorkee, Uttarakhand, India
Stoffel, M., University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland,, University of Bern, Switzerland
Corresponding Author: Ruiz-Villanueva, V.;, Institute of Geological Sciences, University of Bern, Baltzerstrasse 1, Switzerland; email:
Appears in Collections:Journal Publications [HY]

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