Glacial Lakes



Glacial lakes are waterbodies formed by glaciation that are supplied with meltwater from snowpack (Allen et al., 2019). They tend to be located at the terminus, lateral area or beyond the mouth of a glacier (Yao et al., 2018). Two types of glacier lakes occur in Myanmar, those fed directly by glaciers and those that are non-glacier fed; both of these occur in valleys formed by glaciation (Maharjan et al., 2018). The Global Land Ice Measurements from Space (GLIMS) dataset holds 148 glacier records that are within or intersect Myanmar’s border. According to the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) reports, there are 267 glacier lakes in Myanmar of which 257 are bedrock-dammed, eight are moraine-dammed and 2 are classified as ‘other’ (Maharjan et al., 2018). In the Himalayas, the size distribution of glacial lakes is typically highly left-skewed as a result of the majority of lakes being smaller than 0.1 km 2 (Maharjan et al., 2018, Shukla et al., 2019).

Assessment summary

Glacial lakes across the Himalaya are reported to be expanding in area in response to increased rates of glacier melt (Maharjan et al., 2018), contributed by warming temperature and higher elevation. However, there is a lack of data available to quantify these potential increases. Similarly, no adequate information was found to assess whether there has been a Myanmar-wide decline in extent. Despite being restricted to a small area in northern Myanmar, there was no evidence of ongoing decline in extent, environmental quality or biotic interactions (Criteria A-D). The ecosystem is therefore assessed as Least Concern.