The ‘‘River Piracy’’ Phenomenon will lead to the removal of the Alaskan River, says Scientists - Craffic

River piracy or river capture is a geomorphological phenomenon that occurs when the original path of the river diverted can be because of tectonic earth movements (where the slope of land moves), natural damming, soil erosion, and glacier retreat (or melting).

As the temperature of the earth increases day by day which leads to the melting of ice, many problems have emerged and many are emerging, river piracy is one of those problems which are going to affect humans adversely and wildlife also. The Alaskan river is very important and is in danger of being diverted from its original way which is the source of water for the progression of many ecosystems and many peoples that depend on it for their daily use.

What’s the Matter?

The terrorized waterway is the Alsek river that flows down from St. Elias mountain range in Canada to the Dry Bay in Alaska. This river passes through Alsek lake before its union with the Pacific Ocean.

There is a glacier named Grand Plateau Glacier that separates this Alsek River from the Grand Plateau Lake. There are many chances that this glacier is going to melt as the earth becomes hotter in the upcoming decades. And if this happens the two lakes Alsek and grand plateau will certainly join each other which divert the path of Alsek river away from the Dry Bay and towards Grand Plateau Lake.

Geologist Michael Loso from US National Park Service says that “Radar Data helps us to figure out that glacier depth is such that when the ice melts there will be nothing that stops two lakes from joining each other”.

How the course of the Alsek River is likely to change.
How the course of the Alsek River is likely to change. (Loso et al., Geomorphology, 2021)

The Grand Plateau’s ice melting rate is increasing and in recent years by more than 0.6 miles per year, it is melting which increases the chance of this River piracy. Thus there will be no barrier remain between lakes resulting in their union with each other. According to the researcher’s predictions, the opening of the Alsek river could end up to 30 km in the upcoming 30 years and inside an area that is allotted for wilderness, thus for Glacier Bay National Park.

What will happen?

This will affect the wildlife, also fishes in the Alsek River, and different water animals, surroundings around Dry Bay. Without water, the lower part of the Alsek river will become dull and die of vegetation.

Loso told The Guardian, “It’s going to be very tough. The people who depend on that river will have to change their plans, patterns of behavior to accommodate that river is not there”. According to Loso, such events like RIVER PIRACY are going to happen in the future as climate changes very much. Almost 60 companies, a salmon fishery, 19 camps for commercial fishers for their daily wages, and three commercial fishers are dependent on the area surrounding Dry Bay. The river piracy for such a big community is very harmful and can adversely affect their living. All such operations are in danger once the river is diverted from its original path.

Dry Bay is located in a very remote area thus required further investigation. Such effects due to climate change often remain unnoticed but the impacts are very significant and are happening at a very alarming rate.

Alsek River

It’s very tough to predict when and where such events are going to happen but humans must be prepared for situations like river piracy. Clean Water is one of the major issues the world is facing right now. Situations like River Piracy will make it even worse. But such incidents bring the attention of and make peoples visit and to understand the scale of damage we have already given to nature.

River piracy is not the only dangerous event that the world will face in the future, there are many and thus with your small efforts towards the betterment of nature, we can make it more liveable.


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