An ‘inland tsunami’: 15 million people are at risk from catastrophic glacial lake outbursts

Rachel Ramirez, CNN

Glaciers around the world are melting at an alarming rate, and are leaving massive pools of water in their wake. The meltwater fills the depression left behind by the glacier, forming what’s known as a glacial lake.

As temperatures get warmer and more pieces of the glacier melt away, the lake rises — and living downstream from one could be incredibly dangerous. If the lake rises too high or the surrounding land or ice gives way, the lake could burst, sending water and debris rushing down mountains.

This phenomenon is called a glacial lake outburst, and according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications, the roughly 15 million people around the globe that live within 30 miles of a glacial lake are at risk. More than half of them are concentrated in just four countries — India, Pakistan, Peru and China.

It’s the first study that looks specifically at the potential impact of glacial lake outbursts, which experts say cannot be overstated…