Aims

The ‘Glacial Hazards in Chile’ research has three main objectives:

1. To understand the physical processes that govern the development of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Chile: Using remote-sensing and fieldwork, we will compile an inventory of past GLOF sites around the major icefields, satellite glaciers and snow-and ice-capped volcanoes of Chile. From this inventory, we will then identify currently developing GLOF sites and establish the locations of potential future GLOF sites. We will use these observations to establish the physical processes that govern GLOF behaviour in Chile including sites that may be prone to moraine-dam failure, the locations of sites likely to be sensitive to ice-dammed lake drainage and sites that are susceptible to volcanic and earthquake activity. We will analyse flood hydrographs (where available) of selected former GLOFs and use these to establish the patterns of downstream impacts.

2. To estimate the effects of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) on society and economy in Chile:
Using the inventory and the identification of potential GLOF sites across Chile, we will objectively assess the potential for damage to communities and infrastructure downstream. We will also conduct numerical simulations of downstream impacts for selected potential GLOF sites using physically-based numerical flood models.

3. To assess the potential future implications for Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Chile and provide a framework that can be applied to other lower income countries globally:
At selected sites in Chile we will undertake a detailed analysis of the potential downstream economic and societal impacts of future GLOFS, including the impact on communities, infrastructure and agriculture. We will make recommendations for mitigation strategies. Finally, as an output from this research project we will make recommendations for GLOF hazard assessment protocols and mitigation strategies in lower income countries globally.