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Bhutan climate report in Copenhagen

December 11, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Environment, Sustainable Development

Bhutan will see an increase in winter temperature of 1.5°C to 4.0°C by 2050s, according to a World Bank (WB) report released in conjunction with the UN’s Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen underway this week.

The report titled, Shared Views on Development and Climate Change, states that there are no long-term climate data available on Bhutan but available data during the 1990-2002 period point to an increase in rainfall inconsistency across the country.

In the 1998-2003 period, the mean monthly temperature recorded was higher than the mean temperature recorded for the 1990-2003 period, pointing to an overall warming trend. The predicted increases in temperature and more erratic rainfall patterns pose a threat to Bhutan, its people, and its economy. With its fragile ecosystem, glacier lake outburst floods in the northern mountains constitute an ever-present threat. Of the 2,674 glacial lakes in Bhutan, 24 are considered to be potentially dangerous, states the report. (more…)

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Draining the dangerous Thorthormi Lake

December 10, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Environment, Sustainable Development

Aeriel view of glacial lakes in Bhutan

The first phase of an international project to reduce the risk of Bhutan valley from the threatening bursting of growing and increasingly unstable glacial lake is emphasising the huge costs of climate change adaptation in the Himalayas.

Thorthormi Tsho is a glacial lake perched precariously at 4,428 metres above the sea level in the remote Lunana area of northern Bhutan. Rated as one of Bhutan’s likeliest future catastrophes, a breach and outburst flood through Thorthormi Tsho’s unstable moraine walls would most likely spill into the also vulnerable Raphsthreng Tsho 80 metres below, with the combined flood suddenly releasing up to 53 million cubic metres of water and debris into the upper catchment of the Pho Chhu River.

In a valley still bearing the scars of a just one third as large 1994 Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF)which took more than 20 lives and devastated villages and wrecked transport and power facilities, the prospect is frightening. (more…)

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