Gateway for:

Member Countries

Glacial runoff


Reconstruction of glacial run-off in Internal Tien-Shan and its prediction under varying climatic conditions of the 21st century

Tech Area / Field

  • ENV-MRA/Modelling and Risk Assessment/Environment
  • OBS-NAT/Natural Resources and Earth Sciences/Other Basic Sciences

3 Approved without Funding

Registration date

Leading Institute
Tien-Shan High Mountain Center, Kyrgyzstan, Kyzyl-Suu


  • Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium, Brussels\nLaboratoire d'Etudes en Geophysique et Oceanographie Spatiales, France, Toulouse\nNational Snow and Ice Data, USA, NV, Boulder City

Project summary

Project objective. Within the frameworks of the project, we plan to develop a mathematical model of glacial runoff, to test it on several reference glaciers of the Inner Tien-Shan and to carry out prognostic numerical experiments simulating changes in glacial runoff in a limited geographic under conditions of changing regional climate and growing anthropogenic impact on the environment.

Conformity of the project with ISTC objectives. Since the project engages specialists with expertise in the field of weapons of mass destruction (Mamatkanov D., Doctor of Technical Sciences, Academician of the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic, Tuzova T.V., Ph.D. and Satylganov Sh.), and the project itself is exclusively peaceful, it is in line with ISTC goals. Also, compliance with these goals is achieved through the planned involvement of scientists in the acute world problem - predicting dynamics of glaciation, which determines assessment of water resources in the arid zones for the current century. In addition, attracting experts from participating organizations to the global scientific community will broaden the way information is presented on the project at international conferences and workshops.

State of affairs in the field of research. Monitoring state of mountain glaciers in the region ceased after the collapse of the USSR or some time afterwards. During the period prior to the collapse of the USSR, characteristics and regime of glaciers of the Inner Tien-Shan were, as a whole, sufficiently well studied, which was reflected in the works of well known Soviet glaciolodiats (Dolgushin (1961), Dyurgerov (1991), etc.). In the last few years, there has been a gradual revival of field studies, the results of which have been published by Aizen, Kuzmichenok, Kutuzov and others, as well as systematic observations (monitoring). The problem is that since 1991 there has been significant cutting down in the number of qualified specialists in the field of glaciology and hydrology, as well as in the application of modern mathematical modeling methods in natural sciences. Dependence of the Kyrgyz economy on water resources and on their optimal use at the present time and on the development of water use strategy under conditions of global warming, put mathematical modeling forward to the leading position among the methods of glaciological and hydrological calculations and forecasts.

Impact of the proposed project on the progress in the field of the research. The project implementation will allow to solve several fundamental and applied problems, in particular, to develop a methodological approach for prognostic water management calculations based on the application of modern mathematical modeling methods. The project will be very important for educating Kyrgyz specialists in application of mathematical models of mountain glaciers to study modern ice dynamics, calculations and forecasts of glacial runoff.
Expertise of project participants in the research area. The project manager has sufficient qualifications in project management, including international USAID projects: CHARIS (Contribution to High Asian Runoff from Ice and Snow), PEER (PARTNERSHIPS FOR ENHANCED ENGAGEMENT IN RESEARCH) and others. Over the past few years under he supervises restoration of the monitoring of mountain glaciation in the Inner Tien-Shan. The scientific adviser and leading specialists (experts) participating in the project are experienced in the development and application of methods for mathematical modeling of the mass balance and flow of mountain glaciers, as indicated in the list of publications, including presentations at international scientific meetings (see section 12 of the chapter 2). Employees of the Tien-Shan High Mountain Research Center (TSHMRC), who are supposed to be involved in the project, are qualified enough to perform standard field observations and to process obtained results.

Expected results and their application. As a result of the project:

1. We will get an estimate of the current glacial runoff in the Inner Tien-Shan;
2. We will develop a methodology for obtaining prognostic estimates of glacial runoff under changing climate;
3. We will obtain the most probable estimates of changes in the volume of mountain glaciation in the Inner Tien-Shan during the 21st century.
The obtained results can be used in water management calculations, in water consumption planning for hydropower and agriculture, and for development of socio-economic strategies of the Kyrgyz Republic under changing climate.
Compliance with ISTC objectives. The project engages scientists who had participated for many years in research related to defense-related topics. At the same time, the project itself is exclusively peaceful. These two circumstances fully correspond to ISTC objectives to attract military (defense) experts to participate in the implementation of civilian projects.

Work details. Following main problems will be solved within the frameworks of the project:

    - Compilation of all existing data on surface elevation, ice thickness, glacier mass balance in the Inner Tien-Shan;
    - Analysis of available meteorological information from the regular meteorological network and automatic weather stations in the region of interest;
    - Tuning of surface mass balance models of reference glaciers (Sary-Tor, Bordu and Kara-Batkak). Mass balance reconstruction for the purpose of the model validation;
    - Calibration of the ice flow model on observational data (annual displacement of ablation stakes on reference glaciers);
    - Calibration of glacier runoff model using data on run-off from gauging stations on reference glaciers;
    - Measurement of ice thickness using a point radio echo-sounding technique with simultaneous refinement of the absolute height of the surface of the studied glaciers;
    - Construction of actual maps of ice thickness and surface elevation of studied glaciers;
    - Development of downscaling methodology of global climate modeling data to the spatial scale of an inpidual glacier. Tuning and testing of the methodology;
    - Formalization of climate change scenarios for the region of interest;
    - Prognostic calculations of the evolution of mountain glaciers in the region;
    - Prognostic calculations of glacier run-off changes and of its contribution to the total run-off in the region;
    - Elaboration of recommendations for optimal disposal of water resources in the region of interest aiming at minimizing environmental damage;
    - Dissemination of research results (publication of papers, presentations at scientific meetings).
    - Arranging workshops in Bishkek and trainings in Kyzyl-Suu (Issyk-Kul) on the topic of the project;
    - Arranging workshops in Brussels for expertise sharing (in the group “Ice and Climate” of the VUB);


The International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) is an intergovernmental organization connecting scientists from Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Georgia with their peers and research organizations in the EU, Japan, Republic of Korea, Norway and the United States.


ISTC facilitates international science projects and assists the global scientific and business community to source and engage with CIS and Georgian institutes that develop or possess an excellence of scientific know-how.

Promotional Material

Значимы проект

See ISTC's new Promotional video view