Infoscience

Journal article

New lakes in deglaciating high-mountain regions – opportunities and risks

In connection with the ongoing disappearance of glaciers in cold mountains, a great number of new lakes come into existence. The sites and approximate formation time of such potential new lakes can be realistically modelled. This provides an important knowledge base for planning the management of at least the larger ones among such lakes. New water bodies can markedly increase the hazard and risk potential for down-valley areas in the long term, especially in relation to impact/flood waves triggered by rock/ice avalanches from the steep icy peaks surrounding them. However, they also offer opportunities for use in connection with tourism, water supply and hydropower production. Legal regulations and aspects of landscape protection and nature conservation have to be thereby carefully considered. Possible synergies and conflicts exist; they can be anticipated at an early stage by a matrix-type analysis of interrelations between the different perspectives involved. A corresponding inter- and transdisciplinary study was performed for the currently glacierized areas of the Swiss Alps. The results of this study may serve as an example for dealing with the consequences of rapid climate-induced changes in other populated regions with rugged icy mountains, such as the Peruvian Cordilleras or the Himalaya-Karakoram region.

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