January 3, 2018
Tajuco Glacier terminating in Tajuco Lake retreat in 1994 and 2017 Landsat comparison. Red arrow is 1997 terminus location, yellow arrow is the 2017 terminus location and the purple dots are the snowline in 2017.
Tajuco Glacier Lake is a moraine dammed glacier lake in the Tingri district of China. It drains into the Amur River which flows south into Nepal. Shijin et al (2015) reported on the expansion of the lake from 1990 to 2010 expanding from 0.65 square kilometers to 1.14 square kilometers. They further reported that the Chinese Himalaya had 329 moraine dammed glacier lakes greater than 0.02 square kilometers in area, 116 of these posing a potential hazard, average size of 0.4 square kilometers. The number of lakes across the region is increasing (Kathmandu Post, 2017), though the number of GLOF’s has not. The greater volume of expanding lakes puts more pressure on the moraine, the moraines if they have any ice core or permafrost can also weaken, The moraines with time and distance from the glacier also can consolidate and become more stable.
In 1994 Tajuco Lake was 1.85 km long and had an area of about 0.7 square kilometers. The snowline was at 6400 m. In 1997 glacier retreat had led to an expansion of the lake to 2.05 km. By 2016 the glacier retreat had led to expansion of the lake to a length of 3 km. The snowline is at 6500 m near the crest of the glacier. By 2017 the glacier had retreated 1200 m from 1994 to 2017, a rate of 24 m/year. The snowline was again at 6500 m near the crest of the glacier. The high snowline indicates a glacier that will not survive. retreat will continue to expand the lake. It is likely based on the Google Earth imagery below that the lake will not increase by more than 500 m in length, area in 2017 is 1.20 square kilometers. The retreat and lake expansion is similar to that of other glaciers on the north side of the Himalaya Range in China; Chaxiqudong Glacier, Chutanjima Glacier and Yanong Glacier. The high snowlines have been observed on nearby Rongbuk Glacier at Nup La and on Gangotri Glacier.
Tajuco Glacier terminating in Tajuco Lake retreat in 1997 and 2016 Landsat comparison. Red arrow is 1994 terminus location, yellow arrow is the 2017 terminus location and the purple dots are the snowline in 2016.
Google Earth image of Tajuco Glacier illustrating flow.