Entstehung und zukünftige Entwicklung von Gletscherseen in Österreich

Funding: ESS

Duration: 01/2015–12/2017 

Project partner: Kay Helfricht

Glacier retreat can result in the formation of glacial lakes, as already observed at various glaciers in Austria and in other mountain areas in the world. Glacial lakes can constitute an important environmental and socio-economic impact on high mountain systems including water resource management, sediment delivery, natural hazards, energy production and tourism. An important consequence of new lake formation in the context of climate change and glacier retreat is the increase of natural hazard potential from high alpine zones.

The project will target three objectives: (i) detect potential overdeepenings underneath Austrian glaciers and relate them to lake formation (ii) cross-validate different methods to simulate overdeepenings of glacier beds; and (iii) analyse geomorphological conditions of lake formation and lake evolution. The team of researchers from 6 institutions working in the field of glaciology, geomorphology and hydrology from both Austria and Switzerland strives to deliver a data base of potential lake locations and characteristics as well as new insight into lake formation and lake evolution. These outcomes provide valuable base knowledge for natural hazard and risk assessment, hydrological management and socio-economic impact analysis and support response and adaptation strategies to future landscape change following the ongoing glacier melt.