Lake Near Mount Everest Drained

Lake Near Mount Everest Drained

Ashley Kang, Staff Writer

   Imja Tsho, a glacial lake near Mount Everest, has been partially drained of excess water built up by the rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers.  The Nepal government worked with the United Nations Development Programme to drain the huge lake, as the high water levels from melted glaciers posed a threat of flooding to the people of nearby mountain villages.   

  The project to drain Lake Imja Tsho removed almost four million cubic meters of water, amounting to a 3.4 meter decrease in average water levels.  The process was no easy task, however.  It required a $3 million budget from the United Nations, and took two months to remove the water. In addition, the heavy snow and high altitude of Imja Tsho (16,400 feet) made it difficult for the crews to work for more than a couple of hours each day.

  According to The Times of India, Top Bahadur Khatri of the Community Based Flood and Glacial Lake Outburst Risk Reduction Project said,“Draining the lake was on the priority of the government because of its high risk. We have successfully mitigated a disaster right now.”  Though the disaster of flooding from Imja Tsho was temporarily avoided, there is no guarantee that the lake’s current water levels will hold– as climate change plays a bigger and bigger role in our ecosystems, it could just be a matter of time before the lake has to be drained again.  Rachel Oelsner (12) stated,  “Though the project was good, in the sense that it saved the people from a potential threat, we need to find alternate solutions, such as reducing carbon emissions, that will work better in the long run.”

  Because of the relative success of the project, Khatri said, “Our plan is to replicate the work in other high-risk glacial lakes.”  However, there are over 3,000 glacial lakes like Imja Tsho currently in Nepal; and according to a research study conducted in 2014, glaciers in the Himalayas could shrink by over 70%  by 2100.  As the century progresses with climate change being the main cause of the melting glaciers, there will be many more lakes in the Everest region needing the same technology used to remove water from the Imja Tsho lake.  Timothy Zhu (11) emphasized this threat, saying that “we need change our ways, because we can’t buy our way out of climate change forever.”