Simulation and risk assessment of a possible glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) in the Bhilangna Valley, central Himalaya, India

Pratima Pandey, Debangshu Banerjee, Sheikh Nawaz Ali*, Md Ataullah Raza Khan, Prakash Chauhan, Shaktiman Singh

*Corresponding author for this work

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Abstract: Catastrophic hyper-concentrated flow during the glacial lake outburst flood (GLOFs) and its far-reaching consequences on life, property and infrastructure are the foremost concern throughout the high mountain areas. The present investigation focuses on a potentially dangerous moraine-dammed proglacial lake in the Bhilangna Valley, central Himalaya, India, which has been expanding at an alarming rate during the last two decades. This lake has expanded from ~0.15 to ~0.35 km2 during 1999–2020 at the cost of loss in the associated glacier area by ~0.21 km2 during the same time period. We have tried to understand the possible trigger and simulated the worst-case outburst scenario and its impact on the settlements and infrastructure in the downstream valley. Two breaching scenarios: (1) overtopping and (2) piping which may be caused by the ice calving into the lake or through avalanches, have been generated, and a maximum possible discharge amount of ~4377 cumec has been estimated considering the lake depth as 30 m. The discharge can inundate an area of ~19 km2 along the river channel with a mean water depth of ~38 m and an average velocity of ~16 m/s. The MODIS-based land surface temperature analysis from 2002 to 2020 suggests that ~19% of the total area of the Bhilangna Basin has biennial surface temperature <0°C, indicating possible permafrost zone. Both the temperature analysis and the surface features surrounding the lake suggest the region to be dominated by permafrost. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number184
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Earth System Science
Issue number3
Early online date23 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022


  • central Himalaya
  • Glacial lake
  • risk assessment
  • worst-case scenario


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