Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Peru: should we expect more in the future?

Glaciers often have lakes in front of them, known as proglacial lakes. These are usually formed by water building up behind a dam of moraine and/or ice. Sometimes these dams collapse, leading to violent flooding. These events are known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs for short).

The Cordillera Blanca in Peru has many glacial lakes which threaten to break their dams, either by the water levels rising or by ice falling into the lake and displacing a large wave. In Peru dozens of dams have been strengthened and have had overflow channels cut into them to try to manage the risk. However this did not prevent catastrophic flooding occuring in April 2010 when a glacier partly collapsed into a lake near Carhuaz:

Footage here:

These phenomena are possible wherever there are mountain glaciers, although it is thought that those in warmer areas may be most at risk of melting. There is also a feeling that the rates of collapse could increase as the climate warms. See the link below for information about GLOFs in the Himalayas and the UN’s response to the problem:


Tourism and Terrorism in Timbuktu – how is one affecting the other in Mali’s famous city?

Timbuktu, in Mali, has UNESCO world heritage status due to it’s ancient heritage and iconic status – However, it is listed as being at risk due to advancing desert sands.

Recently, islamic terrorism has affected tourism to the region and this has had a knock on effect on the economy:

More about Timbuktu here:

What effect has drought had on people and the environment in Kenya?

Kenya’s ongoing drought is having a severe effect on the environment, causing a number of changes as lakes dry up and plants and trees suffer. The drought combines with other man made pressures on the ecosystems and has a knock on effect on the people who rely on those environments to sustain them:

There are concerns that problems caused by the drought may ignite tribal violence:

One of the main ecosystems under threat is the Mau Forest. This report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) explains some of the treats facing the Mau forest; a list to which drought can be added:

Kenya Forests works to find a sustainable future for Kenya’s forest resources:

How are glaciers in the Himalayas changing?

It’s no surprise that glaciers in the Himalayas are being monitored closely, their seasonal melting provides hundreds of millions of people with water throughout northern India and beyond. If the glaciers melt the supply of water they generate could become unstable, threatening the livelihoods of those who rely on it.

Beyond water supply issues, there are other problems. Lakes are now building up behind the natural moraine dams left by the retreating glaciers. The growth of these proglacial lakes is putting increasing pressure on the dams, sometimes leading to potentially catastrophic collapses, known as Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs for short).

Recent research has tried to identify the scale of the problem:

The UN is also involved in the monitoring of potential GLOFs:

A bit more background here:

Here is the UNDP’s assessment of the risk in Nepal:

Can the precious desert woodlands of Peru be preserved?

A plan to replant fragile woodlands in Peru is underway (2009). The plan is to rejuvenate areas of desert forest which have been decimated by human use for things such as firewood.

How are ice wedges formed?

This animation talks you through the process of ice wedge formation:

Is Dubai an “impossible place”?

Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has seen a massive boom in construction and investment since the 1990s. Many major projects have been built here, creating impressive landmarks, but there are some questions over whether Dubai is viable in the long term, as  there is limited oil money and much of the rest of the growth is funded by debt…..

The world’s tallest building is under construction in Dubai:

Update from 2007:

Update from 2009:

In June 2008 there were plans for a rotating skyscraper:

In November 2009, markets were rocked when Dubai revealed that it may not be able to service its debt: