Science & Technology

Uttarakhand floods were caused by rare rock and glacial avalanches

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Tapovan Vishnugad hydroelectric power plant was damaged by debris flow

Irfan Rashid, Faculty of Earth Information Sciences, University of Kashmir

The 2021 flood in Uttarakhand, India, killed more than 200 people and left them missing. avalanche It dropped about 27 million square meters of rock and glacier ice from nearby Mount Ronti.

On February 7, 2021, residents of the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand saw a large amount of water immediately damaging two hydropower projects as dust squirts fell from the valley. They filmed a wide range of events of the day and broadcast them in real time.

“This is not the first time a flood has occurred, but it is the first time a flood has occurred in February. It snows in winter in the region, and floods usually occur during the monsoon season from June to August.” Kavita Upadhyay, an independent journalist and water policy expert in India, said.

Dan Sugar The University of Calgary, Canada and his colleagues tracked the cause of the flood using satellite imagery and sensor data and found that the flood was caused by about 80% of rock and 20% of avalanches. Glacier ice It fell almost 2km into the valley below, then continued down, picking up trees and other debris along the way.

“During a descent like 3400 meters, the frictional energy released in the form of heat was able to melt almost all of the glacier’s ice, which produced all the water we see in those videos. It was an ice cube, “says Shugar.

It’s unclear if climate change has affected the disaster, he says. Malta Kiar At the Institute for Geological Hydrological Conservation (IRPI) in Turin, Italy.

“There is still debate about the amount of climate change that causes these events and whether we can expect more events,” she says.

Journal reference: Science, DOI: 10.1126 / science.abh4455

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Uttarakhand floods were caused by rare rock and glacial avalanches

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