JSC INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHY AND WATER SECURITY
Central Asian regional glaciological center under the auspices of UNESCO
Glaciology – the science of natural ice
In the sphere of its interests are all forms of ice in the atmosphere, hydrosphere, on the earth's surface and in frozen soils and associated with them natural processes and phenomena:
- Snow cover, glaciers, ice on the surface of water bodies, ice crust, glacial lakes;
- Underground ice (buried glaciers, ice of seasonally frosen grounds and permafrost, rock glaciers);
- Glacial hazardous natural phenomena - glacial mudflows, avalanches, ice falls and glaciers surges, etc.
Reasonability of the Center creating
is due to the fact that:
- glaciers are one of the most sencitive indicators of climate change;
- melted snow and glacial waters form at least 80% of renewable water resources in Central Asia;
- the system of irrigated agriculture that has developed in the region is due to the presence of melted glacial runoff, the share of which in the total river runoff during the vegetation period is up to 30-40%;
- the modern system of monitoring and assessment of forecasted changes of the snow cover, glaciation and ground ice as well as their role in the formation of regional water resources does not meet the tasks of ensuring the water security of the countries of the region and requires consolidation of interaction at the regional level.
- Development and implementation of research programs/projects on the problems of climate-related dynamics of nival-glacial systems and hazardous natural phenomena in the zone of formation of the rivers runoff in Central Asia as a part of the strategy of adaptation of the population and economic sectors to climate change in the context of water, food and environmental security;
- Creation of a network of national research groups of the countries of the region to carry out research in priority areas of the Center's researches;
- Organization and realization of educational seminars and trainings (on the mentioned problems) for young specialists of the participating countries;
- Development and encouragement of international cooperation in key areas of the Center's activities.
- to combine the efforts of scientists for monitoring of glaciers and other components of the cryosphere as the basis for solving the problems of assessing of the current and forecast changes in runoff and water resources in conditions of changing climate;
- to contribute to the development of a network of test mountain-glacial basins as testing sites for studying the dynamics of natural processes in the runoff formation zone by using remote sensing data and modern GIS technologies;
- to contribute to the development of regional research programs in the priority areas of the Center's research activities, coordinated as much as possible at the regional and international levels and meeting the goals of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Hydrological Program;
Functions and tasks
(а) studies of the dynamics of nival-glacial systems in the runoff formation zone and glacial-conditioned natural processes, dangerous and unfavorable phenomena (glacial floods and mudflows, avalanches, thermokarst, etc.),
(b) assessment of the current and forecast changes in the conditions of nival-glacial systems and their impact to runoff and regional water resources;
(c) preparation and distribution of scientific and technical information about the results of the Center's researches in order to improve the systems of management of water and land resources and adaptation measures to the possible consequences of changes in the cryosphere of the runoff formation zone;
(d) Implementing effective training and institutional and human capacity building activities in the region to meet the UNESCO IHP targets and public awareness raising activities;
(e) organization of international conferences, training and practical seminars on research topics related to the development of target tasks of the Center;
(f) development of the effective program in the field of information and communication technologies in the interests of fulfilling the tasks of the Center.
Strategic directions of activity
- The main strategic direction of the Central Asian regional glaciological Center activity is the development of scientific, methodological and analytical base of assessment of the modern and forecast changes in the nival-glacial systems of the runoff formation zone and their consequences for the population, economic sectors in the context of ensuring water, food and environmental security of the countries of the Central Asian region.
- Goal: creation of scientific, methodological and analytical base of the assessment of the modern and forecast dynamics of nival-glacial systems of the runoff formation zone (snow cover, glaciers, underground ice) and its impact to the river runoff in the context of solving the problems of water, food and environmental security of the countries of Central Asian region.
- Monitoring of climate-related changes of the cryosphere components of the zone of river runoff formation in the Central Asian region;
- Assessment of the current and forecast dynamics of snow cover of zone of formation of regional water resources;
- Assessment of the current and forecast changes of the glacial systems of Pamirs, Gissar-Alai, Tien Shan, Altai;
- Assessment of the role of melted snow and glacial waters in the formation of runoff and regional water resources;
- Assessment of the contribution of ground ice melt water to the river runoff in conditions of changing climate.
- Assessment of the current and forecasted dynamics of the cryosphere of the runoff formation zone and possible consequences for the economy, water, food and environmental security of the countries of the region;
- Assessment of the laws of formation and distribution of glacial natural phenomena in the mountains of the region (Pamir, Gissar-Alai, Tien Shan, Altai) and development of recommendations for assessing and mitigating their risk;
- Scientific support of projects for recreational and economic development of resources in mountain areas;
- Creation of a network of research groups in the priority areas of the Center.
- In the priority areas of the Center's research and development, the Institute has 5 doctors of sciences and more than 10 candidates of sciences, 3 PhD and 3 PhD students;
- The experimental base of research is three scientific stations in the Northern Tien Shan with a complex of year-round observations and the duration of continuous series of observation data from 46 (geocryology) to 63 years (glaciology).
- The Department of Glaciology has good experience in international cooperation. Since the mid-1980s, the department staff have participated in the development of 17 international projects (grants from UNESCO, INTAS, COPERNICUS, UNEP, VOLKSWAGEN, project CHARIS, etc.) with the participation of scientists from Russia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Italy, USA, China and Japan.
- To a large extent, the research is based on our own methodological developments, widely tested and recognized by the world scientific community (methods for assessing the height of the climatic snow border and calculating the characteristics of snow cover in mountainous territories, monitoring of the condition of glacial systems, assessment of glacial runoff in conditions of glacier degradation, risk assessment of dangerous natural phenomena).
The problems are:
- purchase of modern technical equipment, high-precision instruments and licensed software;
- administrative and financial restrictions for the participation of the Center's specialists in the works of scientific conferences outside of Kazakhstan;
- critical shortage of the working space;
- practically insurmountable limitations of the opportunities for the defense of dissertations (limit of vacancies for PhD studies and the elimination of previous opportunities for defending candidate and doctoral dissertations), especially for promising specialists who have overcome the age limit of "young scientist".