Department of Glaciology

Head of the Department– Candidate of Geographical Sciences

Tokmagambetov Turebek Ganibekovich

Scientific leader of fundamental and applied researches – Doctor of Geographical Sciences, Professor, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Vice-President of the International Glaciological Association, Chairman of the National Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the International Hydrological Program of the UNESCO.

Severskiy Igor Vasilievich


Glaciological researches in the Sector of geography started in 1939 under the leadership of N.N. Palgov. Glaciological researches especially intensively developed in the period of the International Geophysical Year (1957-59), International Hydrological Decade (1965-74) and International Hydrological Program, when together with the other geographical centers of the former USSR, there were conducted glacio-hydro-climatic researches in all mountain-glacier regions of Kazakhstan. Beginning from 1963, the compilation of the Catalogue of Glaciers of the USSR and activity of the International program «Fluctuation of glaciers mode» had started. In 1965–1974, scientists of the Sector of Geography of the Academy of Sciences of the KazSSR participated in the program of the International Hydrological Decade. In 1980, there were made about 80 glaciological maps for the «Atlas of snow-ice resources of the world». Glaciological researches were made in all mountain regions of Kazakhstan in different time. The most studied regions are Dzhungarskiy and Zailiyskiy Alatau. Etalon glaciers of the International Service of Glaciers Fluctuation – Shumskiy and Tuyuksu, are located in those regions.


Main directions of researches:

  • Monitoring of the development of the components of cryosphere in the zone of runoff formation (snow cover, glaciers, underground ices);
  • Compilation of new catalogue of glaciers of the control basins in a volume required for reliable determination of the area of glaciation and glacier resources;
  • Study of climatic conditions of glacier evolution, ablation and runoff in the second half of the XX-th and beginning of the XXI-st centuries;
  • Calculation and compilation of the map of distribution of altitude of climatic snow border in the territory of transboundary basins;
  • Calculation and compilation of map of distribution of annual accumulation of solid precipitation at the altitude of snow border;
  • Assessment of modern and prognostic changes of glacial systems of transboundary basins;
  • Assessment of climate caused changes of temperature mode of permafrost grounds.


Realized programs of fundamental and applied researches allowed receiving following main results:

  • On the basis of comparative analysis of data of catalogues of glaciers made by materials of aerosurveying in 1956, 1975, 1979 and 1990 and satellite photographs of the later periods, there were studied the dynamic of glaciation of the mountains of the region for the period from 1955 to 2011 and made prognosis of probable changes of ice resources for the period till 2050;
  • It is determined that temps of degradation of glaciation during the last half of century were not constant. They considerably reduced after maximum in 70-ies and there are reasons to consider that the process of their reduction is going on now. It is determined that in spite of considerable (more than 30% for 40 years) reduction of ice in mountains, norms of runoff during the last decades did not change significantly. During that period, the norms of atmospheric precipitation and maximal snow accumulation remain stable and that gives reason to assume that there exist certain compensatory mechanism;
    • It is proved that loss of runoff connected with degradation of glaciation is compensated by melted water of underground ices, storages of which are comparable with storages of surface glaciation. According to the same tendencies of climate change, glaciation, sums of precipitation and maximal snow accumulation, it gives us reason to hope that water resources in Central Asia in the next decades would remain relatively sustainable.


At the present time, 25 employees including Academician of the National Academy of Sciences, 1 Doctor and  6 Candidates of Geographical Sciences, 2 research workers, 3 junior research workers, 7 leading engineers and 2 technicians work in the Department.

Prospects of development

Indicator of authority of glaciologists of the Institute is the Central Asian Regional Glaciological Center under auspices of the UNESCO created by the Institute of Geography on the basis of the Department of Glaciology in accordance with the Agreement between the UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed on 29-th of May 2012 in Astana by General Director of the UNESCO and representative of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Such Center is created for the first time in the World.


  1. N.N. Palgov. Sovremennoye oledeneniye v Zailiyskom Alatau . Alma-Ata, 1958.
  2. Katalog lednikov SSSR. L., 1965-70.
  3. G.A. Tokmagambetov. Ledniki Zailiyskogo Alatau (formirovaniye, stroyeniye, svoistva, dinamika). Alma-Ata,1976.
  4. G. Makarevich, Ye.N. Vilesov, R.G. Golovkova. Lednik Tuyuksu. L., 1984.
  5. P.A. Cherkassov. Radiacionnyi balans fizicheskoi poverhnosti gornogo lednika v period ablacii. Alma-Ata, 1980.
  6. Atlas snexhno-ledovyh resursov mira. M., 1990.
  7. A. Cherkassov. Raschet sostavlyayushchih vodno-ledovogo balansa vnutrekontinentalnoi lednikovoi sistemy. Almaty, 2004.
  8. Severskiy I.V., Kokarev A.L., Severskiy S.I., Tokmagambetov T.G., Shagarova L.V., Shesterova I.N. Contemporary and prognostic changes of glaciation in Balkhash Lake basin. Almaty, 2006.
  9. Fluctuations of Glaciers. Paris, 1965-2000.
  10. Glacier Mass Balance Bulletin. Zurich, 1988 – 2004.
  11. Severskiy I.V. (Ed). Current and projected changes of glaciation in Central Asia and their probable impact on water resources// Assessment of Snow, Glacier and water Resources in Asia. Selected papers from the Workshop in Almaty, Kazakhstan, 2006. Koblenz, 2009.
  12. Vodnye resursy Kazakhstana: ocenka, prognoz, upravleniye: V 21-m tome. – Almaty, 2012. ISBN 978-601-7150-3. – Т. VI: Severskiy I.V. Snezhno-ledovye resursy Kazakhstana /Severskiy I.V., Kokarev A.L., Pimankina N.V. ISBN 978-601-7150-55-6. – 246 s.

2 Doctor’s and 9 Candidate’s dissertations are defended by the employees of the Department.

Field researches

Experimental base of the Department consists of  3 mountain stations in North Tien-Shan with whole-year monitoring: glaciological «Tuyuksu glacier» in the basin of Kishi Almaty river at the altitude of 3500 m. a.s.l, hydrophysical «Big Almaty Lake» and geocryological «Zhosaly-Kezen» in the basin of Ulken Almaty river at the altitudes of 2500, 3400 m accordingly. At the «Tuyuksu» station -the only one on the territory of the former USSR countries, there is a whole-year monitoring of the components of Tuyuksu glacier mass balance which are annually provided to the World Monitoring Service for glaciers fluctuation. At the Zhosaly-Kezen station, there is a monitoring of temperature mode of permafrost and study of the impact of climate change to their condition.