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Avalanches in Tibet -- Are We Expecting More?

Dec 11, 2016 10:37 AM EST
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A 130-metre wide Antarctic waterfall plunges over the Nansen Ice Shelf

Tibet has suffered two consecutive avalanches in the past year, and many are curious about the probable causes of these two tragic events. The first avalanche in July displaced a massive amount of ice and rock, while the second avalanche last September involved even more. One study discovered that the recent avalanches are caused primarily by climate change in the region.

According to Science Alert, the two different avalanches that occurred on the Aru mountain range were not just close but right next each another. Geologists and glacier research experts noted that both events are very unlikely to happen and are unprecedented. It leaves people living and working at the base of the glacier very little time to prepare.  

A report from Live Science showed that an international group of scientists has discovered that there is a big possibility that the slide of massive amounts of ice and rock has been triggered and caused by the meltwater at the base of the glacier.

The study indicated that the speed and mass of ice and rock transported down to the base of the glacier cannot be recreated in simulations without factoring in meltwater. It is only when the presence of meltwater was added onto the scenario that the simulation was successful in recreating the actual events.

A research about meltwater in glaciers showed that the presence of meltwater, a substance whose temperature is much higher than its surrounding ice, may have incorporated heat onto the inner layers of the glacier. Since the inner portion of the glacier was warmed, it would melt and make all mass on top of it vulnerable to collapse as there is nothing else supporting it anymore. 

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