These spectacular outburst floods happen as dams of ice and earth give way or, as from Vatnajokull in Iceland in 1996, when a volcano erupts beneath a glacier. That outburst flood was 10km wide, swept away a bridge and left behind icebergs 10m high.
For the first time, scientists can model the impact of these floods, the damage they could cause and the changes they will make to the landscape. Improved computer power allows them to take digital maps of an area metre by metre and picture the impact of the water as well as the materials carried by the flood.
The power of jokulhlaups means that it's not possible to take conventional measurements of flow and the sediment load. Instead Leeds researcher and School of Geography lecturer Dr Jonathan Carrivick and colleagues have used geological detective work to examine the landscape created by a flood and calculate the energy and mechanisms needed to generate these shapes.
Outburst floods can pose a major hazard in mountainous areas. Dr Carrivick said: "It's the rocks, sediment and ice which do most damage and create the most impressive landforms not just the water, and it's only now that we can model the impact of the load of these floods."
"This is really important for hazard management and also because flood size and frequencies will alter with climate change. In particular, global warming will lead to changes in how fast glaciers melt, and the mode by which meltwater is released."
Dr Carrivick is waiting for a jokulhlaup in New Zealand this summer. The Mount Ruapehu area has been set-up for measurements by local researchers and the existing landscape mapped at very high resolution. It's hoped that the before and after maps - as well as some measurements of the flood - will support his model.
Hannah Love | alfa
NASA sees the end of ex-Tropical Cyclone 02W
21.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
New research unlocks forests' potential in climate change mitigation
21.04.2017 | Clemson University
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
Two researchers at Heidelberg University have developed a model system that enables a better understanding of the processes in a quantum-physical experiment...
Glaciers might seem rather inhospitable environments. However, they are home to a diverse and vibrant microbial community. It’s becoming increasingly clear that they play a bigger role in the carbon cycle than previously thought.
A new study, now published in the journal Nature Geoscience, shows how microbial communities in melting glaciers contribute to the Earth’s carbon cycle, a...
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
03.04.2017 | Event News
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
21.04.2017 | Health and Medicine
21.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy