Abstract

Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) represent a major hazard to human health and development, particularly in less developed countries. Because these floods stem from glacial meltwater reservoirs, I hypothesize in this paper that two values for GLOF magnitude as well as GLOF frequency will increase over time, in response to anthropogenic climate warming. I tested this hypothesis by collecting data from papers from three earth science databases, resulting in six papers that were found to have relevant data from four study sites. The data were compiled into spreadsheets, and dot graphs with trend lines were created to see trends in the peak discharge, flood volume, and frequency of GLOFs from the past several decades. Additionally, the timing of these GLOFs were examined. As glaciers melt and recede, GLOFs from these glaciers were found to burst earlier in the year, and their peak discharge, flood volume, and frequency have been shown to be affected by factors controlled by climate warming. Specifically, frequency of GLOF occurrence has plummeted since the 1970’s, and particularly since the 1990’s. Peak discharge and flood volume for the floods were found to be increasing for three of the four glaciers, while one glacier showed a steep decrease for both values. I predict that a three-step process is occurring for each glacier that consists of an initial increase in these three characteristics, followed by a decrease, followed by a future increase which will occur sometime this century. The current trend of the GLOF characteristics are in response to climate warming and stabilization following the Little Ice Age.

Advisor

Pollock, Meagan

Department

Geology

Disciplines

Earth Sciences | Environmental Indicators and Impact Assessment | Environmental Sciences | Glaciology | Physical Sciences and Mathematics

Publication Date

2018

Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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© Copyright 2018 Michael N. Craigmile