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



Location of 3 high-mountain research stations with the complex of year-round monitoring on the northern slope of Ile Alatau (Tien-Shan), image made from International Space Station


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 Zhetysu (Dzhungarskiy) and Ile (Zailiyskiy) Alatau. Etalon glaciers of the World Glacier Monitoring Service – Shumskiy and Tuyuksu, are located in those regions.


Glacier Central Tuiyksu

Main directions of researches:

  • Monitoring of the development of the components of cryosphere in the zone of runoff formation (snow cover, glaciers, underground ices);
  • Creation of new glaciers inventories 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.



Personnel of the department. Working moments

At the present time, 30 employees including head of the department, 1 principle research worker, 4 leading research workers, 2 senior research workers, 4 research workers, 4 junior research workers, 9 leading engineers, 2 engineers and 3 technician specialists work in the department.

Scientists of the department defend 2 thesis of Doctor of sciences and 9 thesis of Candidate of sciences.

Scientific expeditions and field works


3 high-mountain research stations with the complex of year-round monitoring on the Northern Tien-Shan: glaciological «Tuiyksu glacier», hydrophysical «Big Almaty Lake» and geocryological «Zhosaly-Kezen»

Experimental base of department consist of 3 -mountain research stations with the complex of year-round monitoring on the Northern Tien-Shan: glaciological «Tuiyksu glacier» in the basin of Kishi Almaty river at the altitude of 3500 m, hydrophysical «Big Almaty Lake» and geocryological «Zhosaly-Kezen» in the basin of Ulken Almaty river at the altitudes of 2500 and 3400 m correspondingly. Research station «Tuiyksu glacier», which is the only one in the territory of CIS where remained year-round monitoring of components of mass balance of Tuiyksu glacier and the data is yearly provided to World Glaciers Monitoring Service. At the high-mountain station «Zhosaly-Kezen» is conducted monitoring for the temperature mode of multi-year frozen grounds and impact of climatic changes to their condition is studied.


Determination of maximal snow-water equivalent in zone of runoff formation


Drilling and installation of accumulation-ablation sticks on the glaciers Tuiyksu and Manshuk Mametova

Drilling works and sticks installation on the glaciers. Replacement of wooden sticks on the glacier after melting. There are 115 sticks installed on Tuiyksu glacier and 10 on Manshuk Mametova glacier.


Geodetic works in glacial-nival zone of Ile and Zhetysu Alatau


Bathymetric works on high-mountain lakes aimed to determine main morphometric characteristics


Aero-visual survey of high-mountain lakes with potential risk of outburst

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.


Banner. Glaciation of the mountain territories of Kazakhstan

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 Law of Republic of Kazakhstan about ratification of Agreement between the UNESCO and the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan signed on 1-th of March 2017 in Astana by President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Nazarbaev N.A.. Such Center is created for the first time in the World.

Main publications

  1. N. Palgov. Modern glaciations in Zailiyskiy Alatau. Alma-Ata, 1958. (In Russian)
  2. A. Tokmagambetov. Glaciers of Zailiyskiy Alatau (formation, structure, characteristics, dynamics). Alma-Ata,1976. (In Russian)
  3. G. Makarevich, Ye.N. Vilesov, R.G. Golovkova. Tuyuksu glacier. L., 1984. (In Russian)
  4. A. Cherkassov. Radiation balance of physical surface of mountain glacier in the ablation period. Alma-Ata, 1980. (In Russian)
  5. Atlas of snow-icw resources of the Worls. M., 1990. (In Russian)
  6. A. Cherkassov. Calculation of components of water-ice balance of inter-continental glacier system. Almaty, 2004. P.A. Cherkassov
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Water resources of Kazakhstan: assessment, forecast, management: In 21-st volume. – Almaty, 2012. ISBN 978-601-7150-3. – Т. VI: Severskiy I.V. Snow-ice resources of Kazakhstan /Severskiy I.V., Kokarev A.L., Pimankina N.V. ISBN 978-601-7150-55-6. – 246 p. (In Russian)
  10. Severskiy I.V.Changes of glaciations of Balkash-Alakol basin for the last 60 years and their impact to runoff and water resources // Materials of international scientific-practical conference «Water resources of Central Asia and their use» devoted to summing up of declared by UNO decade «Water for life». – Almaty, 2016. Book 1. – P. 403-417. (In Russian)
  11. Medeu A.R., Tokmagambetov T.T.,Kokarev A.L., Yeriskovskaya L.A., Kirenskaya T.L., Plekhanov P.A., Plekhanova N.S. About impact of glaciological and hydro-meteorological conditions to glacial danger of Zailiyskiy Alatau // Ice and snow. –2017– №57(2).  – P. 261-268. (Индекс РИНЦ 0,546; DOI:15356/2076-6734-2017-2-261-268; SCOPUS). (In Russian)
  12. Pepin N., Bradley R.S., Diaz H.F., Baraer M., Caceres E.B., Forsythe N., Fowler H., Greenwood G., Hashmi M.Z., Liu X.D., Miller J.R., Ning L., Ohmura A., Palazzi E., Rangwala I., Schöner W., Severskiy I., Shahgedanova M., Wang M.B., Williamson S.N., Yang D.Q. Elevation-dependent warming in mountain regions of the world // Nature Climate Change. - 2015.- 5 – P. 424–430. (Impact Factor – 14.55).
  13. Severskiy,I.,Vilesov E., Armstrong R., Kokarev A., Kogutenko L., Usmanova Z., Morozova V., Raup B. Changes in glaciation of the Balkhash–Alakol basin, central Asia, over recent decades // Annals of Glaciology. ‑ 2016, Vol. 57(71). – P. 382-394. Doi: 10.3189/2016AoG71A575. (Impact Factor: 2,572)
  14. Mukherjee K., Bolch T., Goerlich E., Kutusov S., Osmonov A., Pieczonka T., and Shesterova I.Surge-type glaciers in the Tien Shan (Central Asia) // Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research – 2017. – Vol.49, №1. – Р. 147-171. DOI: (Impact Factor: 1,74)
  15. Kapitsa V.,Shahgedanova M., Machguth H., Severskiy I., Medeu A. Assessment of evolution and risks of glacier lake outbursts in the Djungarskiy Alatau, Central Asia, using Landsat imagery and glacier bed topography modeling // Natural hazards earth System Sciences. – 2017, V. 17(10). – P.1837-1856. (Impact Factor: SJR 1,189; Scopus CiteScore 2.67)
  16. Shahgedanova, M. Afzal, I. Severskiy, Z. Usmanova, Z. Saidaliyeva, V. Kapitsa, N. Kasatkin, S. Dolgikh. Changes in the mountain river discharge in the northern Tien Shan since the mid-20th Century: Results from the analysis of a homogeneous daily streamflow data set from seven catchments. // Journal of Hydrology, - 2018. – Vol. 564. P. 1133-1152 (SCOPUS CiteScore=4.06, Web of Science IF=3,727,