Local jökulhlaup

On 31 August 2007, a jökulhlaup (glacial outburst flood) was observed when a lake, dammed by ice from the Russell Glacier, suddenly burst and rapidly drained into the Watson River. The lake was approximately 25 m deep and released around 29,000,000 cubic meters of water with a maximum discharge of 540 cubic meters/second (Mernild et al., 2008). We were able to visit this site where the former elevation of the lake is still discernible.

Currently, the outflow is blocked again and the lake filling meaning that a similar event is likely in the future. Jökulhlaup’s typically originate from this area once every 8-10 years, with the last documented event before 2007 occurring in 1987 (Mernild et al., 2008). However, climatic warming is likely to affect the magnitude and frequency of these events in the future.

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