Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-306
https://doi.org/10.5194/tc-2021-306

  08 Nov 2021

08 Nov 2021

Review status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal TC.

Brief communication: A ~50 Mm3 ice-rock avalanche on 22 March 2021 in the Sedongpu valley, southeastern Tibetan Plateau

Chuanxi Zhao1,2, Wei Yang1,3, Matthew Westoby4, Baosheng An1,5, Guangjian Wu1,3,6, Weicai Wang1,3, Zhongyan Wang1, Yongjie Wang1,6, and Stuart Dunning7 Chuanxi Zhao et al.
  • 1Key Laboratory of Tibetan Environment Changes and Land Surface Processes, Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China Beijing 100101, China
  • 2College of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China
  • 3CAS Center for Excellence in Tibetan Plateau Earth Sciences, Beijing 100101, China
  • 4Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST, UK
  • 5School of Science, Tibet University, Lhasa 850011, China
  • 6South-East Tibetan Plateau station for integrated observation and research of alpine environment, Lulang, China
  • 7School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU, UK

Abstract. On 22 March 2021, a ~50 M m3  ice-rock avalanche occurred from 6500 m asl in the Sedongpu basin, southeastern Tibet. The avalanche transformed into a highly mobile flow which temporarily blocked the Yarlung Tsangpo river. The avalanche flow lasted ~5 minutes and produced substantial geomorphological reworking. This event, and previous ones from the basin, occurred concurrently with, or shortly after recorded positive air temperature anomalies. The occurrence of future large mass flows from the basin cannot be ruled out, and their impacts must be carefully considered given implications for sustainable hydropower and associated socioeconomic development in the region.

Chuanxi Zhao et al.

Status: open (until 03 Jan 2022)

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Chuanxi Zhao et al.

Chuanxi Zhao et al.

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Short summary
On 22 March 2021, a ~50 million m3 ice-rock avalanche occurred from 6500 m asl in the Sedongpu basin, southeastern Tibet. It caused temporary blockage of the Yarlung Tsangpo river, a major tributary of the Brahmaputra. We utilise field investigations, high-resolution satellite imagery, seismic records, and meteorological data to analyse the evolution of the 2021 event and its impact, discuss potential drivers, and briefly reflect on implications for the sustainable development of the region.