Work Packages

WP1: To model 21st century climate change in glaciated mountain regions of Chile using the latest generation of General Circulation Models (GCMs) and assess changes in glacier extent in the future

We will use Coordinated Regional Downscaling Experiment (CORDEX) simulations to assess monthly precipitation and temperature on a 0.4 x 0.4 grid resolution (around 50km grid) for selected regions of the Chilean Andes. The outputs from the CORDEX modelling will be used to drive ice-flow models, which will help us to predict positions of the front of glaciers which exhibit high potential of GLOF development and have high potential to threaten infrastructure and human lives (as identified by WP2 and WP3). The results of these simulations will feed directly into WP4.

WP2: To understand the physical process that govern the development of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Chile

In this key WP we will use remote-sensing (WP2a), geomorphological mapping (WP2b), fieldwork (WP2c) and numerical modelling (WP2d). In WP2a and WP2b we will identify sites of past GLOFs around the Patagonian Icefields, and in the central region around Santiago, where one third of the Chilean population currently lives. At the identified GLOF sites we will investigate, using geomorphology, the probable physical triggers of the GLOFs in order to better understand the processes that control glacial lake systems. In WP2c we will focus on the very active GLOF site ‘Cachet2’ at Glacier Colonia on the Eastern side of the Northern Patagonia Icefield. We will install a high-quality time lapse camera which will monitor glacier movement before, during and after GLOF events. In WP2d we will identify appropriate modelling tool(s) according to and perform model simulations using 1D/2D topography, different streambed conditions (mobile/fixed) and investigate coupling processes such as dam breach vs flood propagation.

WP3: To compile an inventory and estimate the effects of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) on society and economy in Chile

Using the results of WP2, we will compile an inventory for Chile of past GLOF events. By detailed analysis of Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) we will identify potential future GLOF sites by determining the flat parts of the glaciers, and areas where high ice thickness is expected and chances of overdeepenings exist. These can be used to predict where a future glacier or moraine-dammed lake might develop. We will objectively assess the potential for damage to communities and infrastructure downstream at the identified potential GLOF sites. We will use the numerical model developed in WP2d to analyse downstream impacts for selected potential GLOF sites.

WP4: To assess the potential future implications for Glacial Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in Chile and in other lower income countries globally

Using the CORDEX simulations outlined in WP1 and the GLOF simulations from WP3b, 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.