Glacial and geomorphic effects of a supraglacial lake drainage and outburst event, Everest region, Nepal Himalaya


A set of supraglacial ponds filled rapidly between April and July 2017 on Changri Shar Glacier in the Everest region of Nepal, coalescing into a textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater∼180textless/spantextgreater 000 mtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm2$textless/spantextgreater lake before sudden and complete drainage through Changri Shar and Khumbu glaciers (15–17 July). We use PlanetScope and Pléiades satellite orthoimagery to document the system's evolution over its very short filling period and to assess the glacial and proglacial effects of the outburst flood. We also use high-resolution stereo digital elevation models (DEMs) to complete a detailed analysis of the event's glacial and geomorphic effects. Finally, we use discharge records at a stream gauge 4 km downstream to refine our interpretation of the chronology and magnitude of the outburst. We infer largely subsurface drainage through both of the glaciers located on its flow path, and efficient drainage through the lower portion of Khumbu Glacier. The drainage and subsequent outburst of textlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreatertextlessmath xmlns="" id="M3" display="inline" overflow="scroll" dspmath="mathml"textgreatertextlessmrowtextgreatertextlessmn mathvariant="normal"textgreater1.36textless/mntextgreatertextlessmotextgreater±textless/motextgreatertextlessmn mathvariant="normal"textgreater0.19textless/mntextgreatertextlessmotextgreater×textless/motextgreatertextlessmsuptextgreatertextlessmn mathvariant="normal"textgreater10textless/mntextgreatertextlessmn mathvariant="normal"textgreater6textless/mntextgreatertextless/msuptextgreatertextless/mrowtextgreatertextless/mathtextgreatertextlessspantextgreatertextlesssvg:svg xmlns:svg="" width="84pt" height="14pt" class="svg-formula" dspmath="mathimg" md5hash="425859e11faf740f9d5254fffce61654"textgreatertextlesssvg:image xmlns:xlink="" xlink:href="tc-12-3891-2018-ie00001.svg" width="84pt" height="14pt" src="tc-12-3891-2018-ie00001.png"/textgreatertextless/svg:svgtextgreatertextless/spantextgreatertextless/spantextgreater mtextlessspan class="inline-formula"textgreater$^textrm3$textless/spantextgreater of impounded water had a clear geomorphic impact on glacial and proglacial topography, including deep incision and landsliding along the Changri Nup proglacial stream, the collapse of shallow englacial conduits near the Khumbu terminus and extensive, enhanced bank erosion at least as far as 11 km downstream below Khumbu Glacier. These sudden changes destroyed major trails in three locations, demonstrating the potential hazard that short-lived, relatively small glacial lakes pose.

The Cryosphere