In a significant effort to enhance safety and disaster preparedness in Central Asia, researchers at the University of Zurich (UZH) have planned the work for 2023 under the GLOFCA project, led by UNESCO and funded by Adaptation Fund. The work plan seeks to develop advanced tools, guidance documents, and early warning systems to protect communities from potential glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs).
Component 1: Tool Box Development
Under this component, UZH researchers are working on the development and finalization of a prototype tool for lake mapping. The tool will enable experts to gather crucial data from glacial lakes, even in challenging conditions like cloud cover or remote locations. The final prototype will be presented through webinars and workshops, fostering knowledge transfer among stakeholders.
Moreover, a comprehensive atlas on glacial lakes will be created based on the developed tool. This updated inventory will provide valuable insights into lake conditions and serve as a regional reference. By sharing this atlas with partners through online webinars and workshops, the project aims to promote better lake monitoring and management strategies.
Component 2: Best Practice Guidance Document
A methodological framework for assessing and mapping downstream GLOF hazard based on international best practices is being prepared. By co-authoring chapters of the Best Practice Guidance Document with inputs from local partners, the researchers will ensure a collaborative and region-specific approach.
The project team will also conduct hazard and risk modeling, using the outlined approaches in the guidance document. This modeling will help identify potential GLOF risks in both first-order (all lakes) and local detailed scenarios (pilot communities). Local scientists will be engaged in joint modeling and capacity building to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the hazards.
Component 3: Institutional DRR Framework
Institutional profiles for involved authorities will be developed to establish a local to regional framework for disaster risk reduction (DRR). By creating a GLOF Early Warning System (EWS) protocol, the project aims to streamline responsibilities, procedures, and information sharing among authorities. This step will contribute to efficient decision-making during emergencies.
Component 4: Site-Specific EWS Design and Implementation
One of the most critical aspects of the project is the site-specific monitoring concepts for each EWS. Based on detailed hazard assessments and process understanding, these concepts will provide essential data for reliable monitoring and warning capabilities. The involvement of local experts ensures that the EWS is tailored to each community’s needs and risks.
Component 5: Contribution to Web-Based Knowledge Platform
The University will contribute to the web-based knowledge platform to disseminate project outputs, including maps and plans. The platform serves as a valuable resource for researchers, authorities, and communities seeking information on glacial lake management and disaster preparedness.
Importance of the Tasks
The tasks under each component hold immense importance for safeguarding communities living near glacial lakes. By developing advanced tools and guidance documents, researchers can provide authorities and stakeholders with crucial data and knowledge for decision-making. The implementation of site-specific monitoring concepts will significantly improve early warning capabilities, allowing communities to respond effectively to potential GLOFs.
Through the web-based knowledge platform, the project ensures that the gathered information and best practices are easily accessible to a wide range of users. This knowledge exchange is vital for strengthening regional collaboration and disaster resilience in Central Asia.
As glacial lakes continue to be both awe-inspiring natural wonders and potential hazards, the UZH-led project’s comprehensive efforts demonstrate a commitment to sustainable development and the safety of communities in the region. By fostering collaboration and leveraging advanced technology, this ambitious initiative sets a precedent for enhanced glacial lake management worldwide.