Glacier Hazards and Disasters

Glacier hazards such as glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and avalanches/landslides affect populations in mountain regions worldwide.  And threats remain pressing as GLOFs and other glacier hazards are exacerbated with climate change and glacier shrinkage.

Carey and his research assistants in the Glacier Lab have created an extensive website for bibliographical references on glacier hazards and other resources  focused on glacier researchers, research institutes, agencies, and data centers examining glacier hazards. The website and resources presented on the site have a particular focus on the societal dimensions that are less well covered compared to the technical and scientific aspects of GLOFs and glacier landslides.

1941_Huaraz_Aluvion_Art

Depiction of 1941 Huaraz GLOF that killed thousands.

Peruvians have experienced the world’s most deadly glacier disasters. This is the topic of Carey’s book, In the Shadow of Melting Glaciers: Climate Change and Andean Society (Oxford, 2010); in Spanish/Español: Glaciares, cambio climático y desastres naturales: Ciencia y sociedad en el Perú, traducido por Jorge Bayona (Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos/Instituto de Estudios Peruanos, 2014). More than 10,000 people have died around the Cordillera Blanca alone from glacier avalanches and GLOFs since 1941. A recent destructive flood occurred in April 2010 from Mount Hualcán and Lake 513, which caused significant damage in the town of Carhuaz, as Carey’s article explains.

Unfortunately, dangerous conditions persist as Lake Palcacocha above the city of Huaraz grows steadily and as new lakes form, such as one near Lake Artesoncocha above the city of Caraz.  Carey has been studying these glacier hazards for over a decade.