The Need for Community Involvement in Glacial Lake Field Research: The Case of Imja Glacial Lake, Khumbu, Nepal Himalaya

  • Teiji WatanabeEmail author
  • Alton C. Byers
  • Marcelo A. Somos-Valenzuela
  • Daene C. McKinney


This chapter explores the relationship between research on glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), a lack of communication of results, and resultant confusion among local inhabitants. First, this chapter reviews the progress of research on Imja Glacial Lake (Imja Tsho) in the Mt. Everest region of Nepal, one of the most extensively studied lakes in the Himalaya and which is considered by some to be among the most dangerous lake. Secondly, the lack of community involvement in Imja Glacial Lake research since studies began in the late 1980s is covered, followed by a discussion of the confusion that communities have felt as a result of conflicting opinions regarding the lake’s actual risk of flooding. Thirdly, we argue for the need of a “science-based, community-driven” approach to glacial lake and other climate change research in the interests of finding meaningful and effective solutions to contemporary problems. Developing a new framework of research, community involvement, and action will be important not only for local communities but also for scientists in GLOF-prone areas of the Himalaya as well as elsewhere in the world.


Imja Glacial Lake Glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) Community involvement Research for action Nepal 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teiji Watanabe
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alton C. Byers
    • 2
  • Marcelo A. Somos-Valenzuela
    • 3
  • Daene C. McKinney
    • 3
  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Earth ScienceHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan
  2. 2.Institute of Arctic and Alpine ResearchUniversity of Colorado at BoulderBoulderUSA
  3. 3.Department of Civil, Architectural & Environmental EngineeringUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

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