Environment

Photo Essay: Draining Nepal’s Imja Glacial Lake

The lake in the Everest region was in danger of flooding villages, bridges and trekking trails downstream.

Local Monk from Everest region perform religious retuals during the completion ceromony of much-awaited Imja Lake Lowering Project. 23 November 2016. Credit: Nabin Baral

Local monks perform religious rituals during the completion ceremony of the much-awaited project to drain Imja Lake on November 23, 2016. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

The Nepal government announced that it had finished draining the glacial lake Imja Tsho in the Everest region on November 23.

The Imja Lake was in danger of flooding villages, bridges and trekking trails downstream.

The frazile Imja Glacial lmja Lake, one of the biggest glacial lakes in Everest Region of Nepal Himalaya. It is located at an altitude of 5010 meters above the sea level. Till 1960 there were small lakes in Imja Glacier. But dut to rise in temperature bacause of climate change, the lake has incresed to 1.28 square kilometers now. The depth of the glacial lake is 150 meters. Dolakha District , Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral

Imja is one of the biggest glacial lakes in the Everest region of Nepal Himalayas at 5,010 meters above sea level. Since 1960, the small lake has increased to 1.28 square kilometres and 150 metres deep. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

Imja Lake is one of the six highly dangerous glacial lakes in Nepal.

It took more than six months for about 150 people including 40 military personnel and local Sherpas to construct an outlet and release almost four million cubic metres of water. The water level of lake – originally 149 metres deep – fell by 3.4 metres.

The controlled exit cannel built by Nepal Army in Imja Glacial Lake. The lowering project has tried its best to use locally available materials to make the cannel. Everest Region, Solukhumbu District Nepal.

The outlet channel built by the Nepal Army in Imja glacial lake. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

Nepal has thousands of glacial lakes. Many of these are filling up fast because of warming temperatures and melting glaciers.

Glacial lakes have burst their banks 24 times in Nepal since the 1960s, three of which were in the Dhud Koshi river basin in the Everest region.

The Nepal government set up flood risk reduction project, supported by the Global Environment Facility and the United Nations Development Programme. Early warning systems have been installed in six settlements on the Everest trekking trails to send flood warnings to people downstream.

Nang thume Sherpa, member of Task Force for Glacial Lake Outburst Flood risk reduction shows the early warning system intslled in Fakding Village Solukhumbu, District Nepal. The early warning sytem will get autmated warning message from Automated Hydromet Sensor installed in Imja Glacial Lake.

Nang Thume Sherpa, a member of glacier lake task force, shows the early warning system installed in Fakding Village, Solukhumbu. The early warning system will send automated messages from a sensor installed in Imja Lake. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

Tourists have suggested the government shift trails on the Everest to higher places so trekkers and porters climbing the mountain are safe from potential glacial lake floods.

Namche Bazaar, the getway to Everest. Solukhumbu District, Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral

Namche Bazaar, the gateway to Everest, Solukhumbu district, Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

Ajit Rai and his wife Ranjita Rai works as labourer in Dengboche Village, the way to Imja Glacier and Everest Base Camp. Ajit Says, " Last year a small flash flood tiggred from other glaicial lake that mixed with imja river, althrough ,it only destroyed one bridge near Dengboche, it has made me to think more about safety of my family". Solukhumbu District, Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral

Ajit Rai and his wife Ranjita Rai work as labourers in Dengboche Village between Imja Glacier and Everest Base Camp. “Last year a small flash flood triggered from Lotse glacier mixed with Imja Lake. Although it only destroyed one bridge near Dengboche, it has made me think more about the safety of my family,” said Ajit. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

Kalma Lama, from lukla, runs a shop in Dengboche. She is happy that the risk from the lake is lowered by lowering the water level of Imja by 3.4m. She is here in Imja Lake today to attend the completion ceremony of much-awaited Imja Lake Lowering Project. 23 November 2016. She has already experience samall glacial lake outburst flood that tiggred from Lotse Glacier last summer. She says, " Althrough there was no lose the flow of flood in the Imja River was terrifiying. Imja Lake, Everest Region, Dolakha District Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral

Kalma Lama, from Lukla town, runs a shop in Dengboche. She is happy that the lake has been drained. She has already experienced a small glacial lake outburst flood from Lotse glacier lake last summer. “Although there was no loss from the flood, the Imja river is terrifying,” she said. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

School children cross a suspension bridge over Dhud Koshi River near Fakding Village where the early warning system is intslled, Fakding Village Solukhumbu, District Nepal. The early warning sytem will get autmated warning message from Automated Hydromet Sensor installed in Imja Glacial Lake. Credit: Nabin Baral

School children cross a suspension bridge over the Dhud Koshi river near Fakding village where the early warning system is installed. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

Smoke emited from a hotel in Debuche as the sun sets in Mt. Everest is reftected in the glass of dianning room. The smoke comes from the heating system for the dianning room. Recent study has shown that black carbon from such smoke is also cause for faster retreat of glaciers in Himalaya Region. Solukhumbu District, Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral

Smoke emitted from a hotel in Debuche as the sun sets over Mount Everest. Recent studies show that black carbon from such smoke is causing faster retreat of the glaciers in the Himalaya region. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

A night view of frizile Imja River Valley from Chukum, Solukhumbu District, Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral

A night view of Imja river valley from Chukum, Solukhumbu district, Nepal. Credit: Nabin Baral/Third Pole

This article was originally published on The Third Pole. Read the original article