Met Office team to investigate glacial movement in Gilgit-Baltistan
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By Jamal Shahid | 6/1/2017 12:00:00 AM
ISLAMABAD: A team from the Meteorological Department will investigate Khurdupin glacier surge in Shimshal Valley, a tributary to the Hunza River in GilgitBaltistan, blocking the Shimshal River.

`At the moment the surge is a source of great concern as it hascompletely blocked Shimshal River, creating a small lake, which can threaten settlements downstream such as the Passu Village, one of the largest in that region, said Department of Meteorology Director General Dr Ghulam Rasul, whose team will leave in a few days to study the glacial movement.

In 2010, a similar natural phenomenon occurred in GilgitBaltistan when a massive landslide completely blocked the Hunza River, creating the breathtaking 28km long Attabad Lake.

According to Dr Ghulam Rasul, the glacial surge has been caused by, what he called, the geo-glacio-hydrological hazard, in which landslides, gravity and rising temperatures among other factors are all in action at the same time, causing the glacier to move or shif t downhill.

`So far, we believe that rising temperatures, a possible impact of climate change, has a greater role in causing the glacial surge. If we look at the temperature of Gilgit alone, it has constantly been hovering around 40°C throughout last week,` said Dr Ghulam Rasul.

The incident came to light when locals started circulating images of a small lake on the Shimshal River.

Dr Ghulam Rasul explainedthat there were no early warning systems to predict when glaciers could surge. He explained that his department had identified half a dozen other locations in Shimshal Valley, where other glaciers could surge any day. Rising temperatures are likely to cause glacier movements, he said, `And there are numerous other glaciers in the Central Karakuram that are also surging.

There are about 10 to 12 sites in Hunza Valley where massive land sliding and glacier surges are just waiting to happen and could have devastating effects downstream, said Dr Ghulam Rasul.

According to the official, simi-lar hazards have been identified in the Chipurson Valley, bordering Afghanistan and China. The Chipurson Valley experiences two to three glacial lakes outbursts floods (GLOF) events annually.

GLOF is a type of flood that occurs when the glacier containing a body of water fails. The failure is triggered by erosion, earthquake, increasing temperatures, and a buildup of water pressure or an avalanche, causing the water to overflow.

Dr Ghulam Rasul said such events were extremely rare that occurred once in a hundred years.