NCHM conducts awareness programme on GLOF

Due to the increasing risks of glacial lake outburst floods, the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology is raising awareness about preparedness for those living downstream. Local leaders from Gasa, Punakha, and Wangdue Phodrang attended the awareness programme. The programme aims to foster collaboration between local governments and relevant stakeholders to strengthen preparedness for GLOF disasters.

Officials from the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology talked about the status of lakes and their associated risks, and the early warning systems installed along the Punatsangchhu.

After attending the workshop, the local leaders are expected to disseminate the information in their communities.

The centre conducted the programme after experiencing a glacial lake outburst flood, last year, and before the onset of monsoon.

According to the officials, there are nine potentially dangerous lakes above the Phochhu source and two above the Mochhu.

“There is a moraine between Thorthormi Tsho and Rapstheng Tsho. The thickness of the moraine was found to be 35 metres. After last year’s GLOF incident, our officials found that the moraine is around 33 meters, which is a decline from 35 metres. Of course, there is risk while considering the climate change situation,” said Chimi Namgyel, Sr. Statisticianat National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology.

Although there are early warning systems such as automatic water level stations and sirens installed along the rivers, participants said there is a need to explore new measures to alert the people.

One suggestion was to develop a mobile application.

“If they could develop an app or send SMS on mobile phones, it would be helpful. It can also alert people. I think it would bring immense benefit if they come up with such plans besides the current system,” said Gyem Dorji, Dangchhu Mangmi.

“It is important to be prepared. The area between Thorthormi Lake and Rapstreng Lake has become only small. If the two lakes join, there will be an outburst as presented during the workshop. Even if we do not face outburst problems, we might face communication, transportation, food security, and be unable to avail ourselves of healthcare services,” said Kinley Dhendup, Phangyuel Mangmi.

Within the past five years, two minor glacial lake outburst floods occurred at the subsidiary lakes of Thorthromi Lake. However, there were no major reports of damages.

Officials from the National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology said that to minimise the risks, there are seven automatic water level stations installed along the Phochhu and three along the Mochhu.

Likewise, there are eighteen sirens along the Punatsangchhu.

Changa Dorji, Wangdue Phodrang

Edited by Tshering Zam

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