Icefall in Laguna Palcacocha causes three metre high waves

D uring a special emergency press conference, the National Institute for Research in Glacier and Mountain Ecosystems (INAIGEM) announced that a decent amount of ice has fallen in the water of Lake Palcacocha. Engineer Marco Zapata Luyo confirmed that the incident happened at around 8 pm on May the 31st. The avalanche of ice was recorded by special equipment which is installed at the lake to monitor lake movements.

The avalanches are constantly happening and have generated decent waves that reached up to three metres high. Additionally, due to the icefall, ten tubes used for water drainage were damaged and are not working anymore. Currently, Palcacocha, although it has lowered its level of water surface, poses a high risk due to the constant landslides above the lake, as is the case with Nevado Pucaranra. The investment required for security works on the dam which protects the lake from an immediate outburst is calculated at an estimate 20 million soles, while damages that could generate a possible glacial lake outburst flood would be around 80 million dollars.

Expert Marco Zapata Luyo of the INAIGEM also assumed that the in a case of possible glacial lake outburst flood , more than 50,000 people would be directly affected. Earlier this year in January, the Glaciology and Water Resources Unit of the National Water Authority (ANA) concluded that glacial retreat has created 30 new lakes in the Cordillera Blanca. In 1970 it calculated 723 km2 of glacier surface; in 2012 it had dropped to 474 km2, a shocking 35%. In quantity, 722 glaciers were recorded in 1970 and only 586 in 2012.

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