Glacial lakes threaten millions with flooding as planet heats up

3rd May, 2021

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Lake Palcacocha in Peru. The many factors at play in an outburst flood make it impossible to estimate how many people might be at risk globally. Photograph: Dan Collyns/The Guardian


An increasing number of people are being threatened by flooding caused by glacial lakes bursting, scientists have warned. As the planet warms and glaciers recede, meltwater accumulates and forms lakes, often as a result of ice or moraine acting as a dam. Since 1990, the volume, area and number of these glacial lakes has increased by 50% globally. When these lakes become too full there is a risk that they may breach or overflow, releasing huge volumes of water and causing catastrophic flooding.

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