I worked to send Dr. McKinney and a team of scientists to Nepal to check out the stability of glacial lakes at the foot of Mout Everest. They left last week, will trek for two months, and are cooridating with the Napali Army, USGS, USAID-Nepal, and some local NGOs.
The government, communities, and scientist worry that several glacial lakes lost stability and could burst and flood villages below. The recent string of earthquakes may have damaged the walls of the natural lakes. The lakes were once giant glaciers. Hundreds of glaciers have melted in recent years, mostly evaporating and melting into rivers and ecosystems. Several melting glaciers, however, left behind lakes. Glacial lakes are dangerous as they’re held together literally by wall of rocks glued together by ice. These walls are called terminal moraines. If these moraines crack or break, the lake washes out and floods the valley below, often killing many people and wiping out small villages.
Dr. McKinney’s work to assess the status of several new lakes is critical to the safety of the Nepali people.