Uttarakhand Glacier / Tapovan Hydropower Dam Burst

A twitter thread from Zayd Abid-Waheed, Ph.D research student.

The Uttarakhan Glacier / Tapovan Hydropower Dam Burst

Some of you may have seen today the news regarding the devastating dam burst in the Himalatyas today so as a Ph.D student whose research al;igns with the context of todays event’s, I thought I would share.

How does something like this happen? To put simply, the force of water, sediment and ice that hit Tapovan was possibly triggered by a large chunk of Uttarakhand Glacier calving off and releasing a large amount of energy.

This sort of event if this theory is to be believed is typically caused by a Glacial Lake Outburst Flood or GLOF, an even that occuirs when a pocket of water held in or on a glacier suddenly releases causing a sudden surge of movement.

Such events rarely affect people but when they do they can be catastrophic with over 100 people potentially caught in the torrent. With that statistic in mind consider this: The Times of India reports that locals had flagged the dam as an impending disaster back in 2019.

This is sadly not an uncommon situation in the Himalayan region, where often corners are being cut to build designs that do not consider the force of freak events like this. In fact, this dam had yet to even complete construction.

Despite this however, Indian, Pakistan and other nations surrounding these mountains NEED these power plants to serve an ever growing population that requires energy. Energy that must be clean in order to ensure a future for this region that is sustainable.

This is why my research with the Alpine Glacier Project is so critical – understanding the dynamics of high mountain glacial systems and their impact on hydropower mitigates the impacts of events like today.

To ensure a safer, greener and more sustainable future we must work to use these natural processes that will increase in severity and frequency with a changing climate.

Follow Zayd on Twitter at @ZaydWaheed

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