Natural Hazards

, Volume 93, Issue 1, pp 393–409 | Cite as

Remote sensing and in situ-based assessment of rapidly growing South Lhonak glacial lake in eastern Himalaya, India

  • R. K. Sharma
  • Pranay Pradhan
  • N. P. Sharma
  • D. G. Shrestha
Original Paper


Melting glaciers are mostly associated with formation of proglacial lakes and the expansion of existing glacial lakes in Himalayan region. These expanding glacial lakes can induce the risk of glacial outburst floods that pose a great potential threat to natural resources and human lives. In Sikkim Himalaya, South Lhonak lake (SLL) (5200 masl) is rapidly expanding over the few decades due to the ongoing glacier melting. We recorded that the lake size increased from 0.20 ± 0.020 to 1.31 ± 0.001 km2 with the length change of 1.6 km during the period from 1976 to 2016. The average rate of expansion was recorded of 0.027 km2 per year; however, it increased drastically since 2000. The in situ-based bathymetric study of SLL showed that the storage volume was 65.81 ± 2.5 million m3 and maximum and average depths were 131 ± 2.5 and 67.05 ± 2.5 m, respectively. We observed that the substantial calving of ice bodies during the melting seasons and partly from the melting of North Lhonak glacier and flow of the Lhonak lake have contributed in expansion of SLL. We have also proposed an empirical equation of volume–area relationship to calculate the storage capacity of similar moraine-dammed glacial lakes in the Himalaya. In addition, we have suggested effective precautionary and mitigation measures to minimize the risk of GLOFs in future. The present study provides vital inputs for hydrodynamic modelling for flood simulation of potentially vulnerable lakes and to formulate the effective strategies in disaster risk reduction and mitigation plan in minimizing the threat of GLOFs.


South Lhonak lake GLOFs Remote sensing Bathymetric volume Volume–area relationship Mitigation measures Sikkim Himalaya 



This study was supported by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India (vide. Sanction order no. DST/CCP/GLOF-Sikkim/2013-2) and the Department of LR&DM, Government of Sikkim. We acknowledge the facilities and support provided by USGS-Earth Explorer for free access to Landsat images and Sikkim State Remote Sensing Applications Centre for use of RS & GIS Laboratory. We are thankful to the Principal Secretary, DST&CC-Sikkim for encouraging research and the scientific team of SCST-Sikkim, Indian Army, ITBP personnel and all the team members of expedition including the field staffs for their support during the field study. Special thanks to Dr. Sonam Wangchuk, SECMOL, Leh-Ladakh, for his support during the field study and Dr. Shiva K. Sharma, RCIBSD-Sikkim, for language correction of the manuscript. Authors would like to thank the Editor in Chief and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive suggestions to the revised manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018
corrected publication May 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Climate Change Cell (Under NMSHE)Sikkim State Council of Science and TechnologyGangtokIndia

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