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Earth Surface Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 20 Apr 2018

Research article | 20 Apr 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Earth Surface Dynamics (ESurf).

Development of glacial lakes and evaluation of related outburst hazard at Adygine glacier complex, Northern Tien Shan

Kristyna Falatkova1, Miroslav Šobr1, Bohumír Janský1, Anton Neureiter2, and Wolfgang Schöner3 Kristyna Falatkova et al.
  • 1Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Charles University, 128 43 Prague, Czechia
  • 2ZAMG, 1190 Vienna, Austria
  • 3Department of Geography and Regional Science, University of Graz, 8010 Graz, Austria

Abstract. Formation and development of glacial lakes in mountain regions is one of the consequences of glacier recession. Such lakes may drain partially or completely when the stability of their dam is disturbed. We presented a case study from Central-Asian mountain range of Tien Shan, a north-oriented tributary valley Adygine, where a glacier retreat resulted in formation of several generations of lakes. The aim of this study was to analyse past development of different types of glacial lakes influenced by the same glacier, to project site's future development, and to evaluate the hazard of individual lakes with an outlook for expected future change. We addressed the problem with a combination of methods, namely bathymetric, geodetic, and geophysical on-site survey, satellite image and DEM analysis, and modelling of glacier runoff evolution. Based on the case of glacial lakes of varied age and type, we demonstrate the significance of glacier ice in lake's development. Lake 3, which is in contact with glacier terminus, has changed rapidly over the last decade, expanding both in area and depth and increasing its volume more than 13 times (7800m3 to 106000m3). Hydrological connections and routing of glacier meltwater proved to be an important factor as well, since most lakes in the region are drained by subsurface channels. Within the hazard evaluation of lakes, we highlighted the importance of field data which can provide crucial information on lake stability. In our case, the understanding of site's hydrological system and its regime helped to categorise Lake 2 into low outburst hazard, while Lake 1 and Lake 3 were labelled as medium hazard lakes. Further development of the site will be driven mainly by rising air temperature and increasingly negative glacier mass balance. All three scenarios predict a significant glacier area decrease by 2050, specifically leaving 73.2% (A1B), 62.3% (A2), and 55.6% (B1) of the 2012 glacier extent. The glacier retreat will be accompanied by changes in glacier runoff with first peak expected around the year 2020.

Kristyna Falatkova et al.
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Kristyna Falatkova et al.
Kristyna Falatkova et al.
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Short summary
In the last 50 years, the Adygine glacier has been subjected to relatively fast recession comparable to other glaciers in Tien Shan. As a consequence, a 3-level cascade of glacial lakes formed, two of which were categorised as medium outburst hazard. By 2050, the glacier is expected to shrink to 56–73 % of its 2012 extent. Further development of the site will result in formation of new lakes and probably also increase of outburst hazard due to glacier runoff changes and melting of buried ice.
In the last 50 years, the Adygine glacier has been subjected to relatively fast recession...