Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 397–418, 2017
Geosci. Instrum. Method. Data Syst., 6, 397–418, 2017

Research article 12 Oct 2017

Research article | 12 Oct 2017

Re-establishing glacier monitoring in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, Central Asia

Martin Hoelzle1, Erlan Azisov2, Martina Barandun1, Matthias Huss1,3, Daniel Farinotti3,4, Abror Gafurov5, Wilfried Hagg6, Ruslan Kenzhebaev2, Marlene Kronenberg1,7, Horst Machguth1,8, Alexandr Merkushkin10, Bolot Moldobekov2, Maxim Petrov9, Tomas Saks1, Nadine Salzmann1, Tilo Schöne5, Yuri Tarasov10, Ryskul Usubaliev2, Sergiy Vorogushyn5, Andrey Yakovlev11, and Michael Zemp8 Martin Hoelzle et al.
  • 1Department of Geosciences, University of Fribourg, Fribourg, Switzerland
  • 2Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences, CAIAG, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
  • 3Laboratory of Hydraulics, Hydrology and Glaciology (VAW), ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 4Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland
  • 5GFZ German Research Center for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany
  • 6Department of Geography, University of Munich, Munich, Germany
  • 7Meteodat GmbH, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 8Department of Geography, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  • 9Glacial Geology Laboratory, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • 10NIGMI of UzHydromet, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • 11Uzbek scientific investigation and design survey institute, UzGIP, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Abstract. Glacier mass loss is among the clearest indicators of atmospheric warming. The observation of these changes is one of the major objectives of the international climate monitoring strategy developed by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS). Long-term glacier mass balance measurements are furthermore the basis for calibrating and validating models simulating future runoff of glacierised catchments. This is essential for Central Asia, which is one of the driest continental regions of the Northern Hemisphere. In the highly populated regions, water shortage due to decreased glacierisation potentially leads to pronounced political instability, drastic ecological changes and endangered food security. As a consequence of the collapse of the former Soviet Union, however, many valuable glacier monitoring sites in the Tien Shan and Pamir Mountains were abandoned. In recent years, multinational actors have re-established a set of important in situ measuring sites to continue the invaluable long-term data series. This paper introduces the applied monitoring strategy for selected glaciers in the Kyrgyz and Uzbek Tien Shan and Pamir, highlights the existing and the new measurements on these glaciers, and presents an example for how the old and new data can be combined to establish multi-decadal mass balance time series. This is crucial for understanding the impact of climate change on glaciers in this region.