Articles | Volume 6, issue 2
Research article
12 Oct 2017
Research article |  | 12 Oct 2017

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

Martin Hoelzle, Erlan Azisov, Martina Barandun, Matthias Huss, Daniel Farinotti, Abror Gafurov, Wilfried Hagg, Ruslan Kenzhebaev, Marlene Kronenberg, Horst Machguth, Alexandr Merkushkin, Bolot Moldobekov, Maxim Petrov, Tomas Saks, Nadine Salzmann, Tilo Schöne, Yuri Tarasov, Ryskul Usubaliev, Sergiy Vorogushyn, Andrey Yakovlev, and Michael Zemp

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.