To call attention to the imminent dangers of the Imja Lake Outburst to their way of life, the Sherpa communities in Nepal’s Khumbu region organized a “Beat the GLOF” action run. The dramatic increase in the size of the Himalayan Mountains’ glacial lakes is a direct consequence of climate change, which is melting Himalayan glaciers into lakes at an unprecedented pace. This has created the threat of potentially deadly GLOFs – Glacial Lake Outburst Floods – to the people living in the Himalayas.
For the people in the Khumbu Region, the Action Run symbolizes a race against time to deal with the impacts of Climate Change in the Himalayas. Ironically, the Sherpa and other mountain communities are going to bear the brunt despite their negligible contribution to global Greenhouse Gas emissions, which have led to climate change.
This event is part of WWF’s Climate for Life campaign to raise global awareness on the impacts of climate change in the Himalayas. The event was organized by Sherwi Yondhen Tshokpa (a Sherpa students’ group) and iDEAS, with sponsorship from The North Face.
“The threats of Himalayan GLOFs exemplifies climate injustice forced upon communities who have played no role in the creation of this problem in the first place. It’s heartening to see, though, that the local communities are coming together and raising their voice against it,” said Prashant Singh, Director of WWF-Nepal.
Altogether 137 runners participated in the Action Run which started at 7:00am at the Glacial Lake Imja - the biggest threat to the people of the Khumbu. The route was approximately 22 miles long and followed the path of the potential Imja Lake GLOF. The run was organized to show the world what lies in the path of destruction and demonstrate that even the fastest runner will not be able to outrun the fury of a glacial lake outburst flood.
“We pledge to continue to work towards raising awareness on this issue in the future. We truly appreciate the endeavor of international organizations like WWF in helping us take this message to the wider world,” said Dawa Steven Sherpa, iDEAS Coordinator and Climate for Life Ambassador.
- iDEAS is an NGO founded by Climate for Life Ambassador Dawa Steven Sherpa to bring together like minded individuals and work together on initiatives that will help sustain the livelihoods of the mountain communities and protect the mountain environment.
- The Imja Tsho Glacial Lake in the Khumbu region has been identified as the most likely to burst its banks at any time. Scientific evidence has shown it is growing at a rate of approximately 240 feet each year. If it was to burst its banks, it would unleash a catastrophic Glacial Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF) causing devastation along the downstream valleys affecting communities and ecology of the mountains, hill regions and also the dense population areas of the Gangetic plains.