As climate change thaws the mountains, right across the eastern Himalaya in Nepal, Bhutan and southern Tibet, hundreds of new lakes have formed at the snouts of glaciers. Some have found outlets and emptied themselves, while others, like this one, swelled up dangerously.
In the past 40 years, there have been 26 glacial lake outburst floods on Nepal’s rivers, and with newer and bigger lakes forming, they pose a serious risk to new roads, settlements and hydropower plants downstream.
However, glacial lakes do not just need to be a threat, as has been shown by a unique project on the Langtang Lirung Glacier. This glacial lake at 4,100m is being drained to lower its level, and the water is used to generate electricity.