Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2017, Vol. 72 ›› Issue (7): 1173-1183.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201707004

• Orginal Article • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Definition and classification systems of glacial lake for inventory and hazards study

Xiaojun YAO1(), Shiyin LIU2,3, Lei HAN4, Meiping SUN1,2   

  1. 1. College of Geography and Environment Sciences, Northwest Normal University, Lanzhou 730070, China
    2. State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences, Northwest Institute of Eco-Environment and Resources, CAS, Lanzhou 730000, China
    3. Institute of International Rivers and Eco-Security, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China
    4. Geological Survey Institute of Sichuan Province, Chengdu 610081, China
  • Received:2016-12-19 Revised:2017-04-02 Online:2017-08-07 Published:2017-08-07
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41261016, No.41561016 Opening Foundation Projection of State Key Laboratory of Cryosphere Sciences, CAS, No. SKLCS-OP-2016-10 Youth Scholar Scientific Capability Promoting Project of Northwest Normal University, No.NWNU-LKQN-14-4 Geological Survey Project of China Geological Survey, No.DD2016034206]


Glacial lakes not only provide the important refresh water resources in alpine region, but also act as a trigger of many glacial hazards such as glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) and debris flow. Hence glacial lakes play an important role in the research related with cryosphere, climate change and alpine hazards. In this paper, the issues of glacial lakes were systematically discussed. Then from the view of glacial lake inventory and glacial lake hazards study, the glacial lake was defined as natural water supplied mainly by modern glacier melting water or formed in glacier moraine's depression. Furthermore, a complete classification system of glacial lakes was proposed based on its formation mechanism, topographic feature and geographical position. Glacial lakes were classified into 6 classes and 8 subclasses, i.e., glacial erosion lake (including cirque lake, glacial valley lake and other glacial erosion lake), moraine-dammed lake (including end moraine-dammed lake, lateral moraine-dammed lake and moraine thaw lake), ice-blocked lake (including advancing glacier-blocked lake and other glacier-blocked lake), supraglacial lake, subglacial lake and other glacial lakes. Meanwhile, some corresponding features presented by remote sensing images and quantitative indices for identifying different glacial lake types were proposed so as to build a universal and operational classification system of glacial lakes.

Key words: glacial lake, glacier, definition, classification, inventory, hazard