Study examines risk of Himalayan glacial lake outburst

Imja Lake Milan Shrestha, an ASU anthropologist and School of Sustainability lecturer, has joined a team of scientists analyzing the risk posed by a lake in the high Himalaya. A melting glacier has engorged the lake, which is positioned above five villages that are more than 300 years old.  An event like an avalanche or rockslide could burst the natural dam containing the lake and devastate the settlements downstream. The interdisciplinary team is made up of water-resource engineers, a glaciologist, an anthropologist and a mountain geographer. During the three-year study, which is funded by a recent $1.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation, Shrestha will act as a liaison between the earth scientists and the Sherpa. “Our job is to study what (the Sherpa) want,” Shrestha says. “That’s why they asked an anthropologist to be a part of this.”