Objectives of the Project

Objectives of the Project

Research shows that the glaciers cover of mountain regions worldwide has decreased significantly in recent years as a result of warming trends. A recent comparison of historical glacier data with different satellite images revealed a significant shrinkage of mountain glaciers in the Andes, the Himalayas, the Alps and the Pyrenees over the past decade (Wessels, 2001 ) these observations are consistent with published results from many other glacier studies around the world that also recorded  rapid glacier retreat in recent years. A study by (Dyurgerov, 1997) who considered the mass balance changes of over 200 mountain glaciers globally, concluded that the reduction in global glacier area amounted to between 6,000 and 8,000 km² over a 30 year period between 1961 and 1990. According (Haeberli, 2001) of the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS), the measurements taken over the last century “clearly reveal a general shrinkage of mountain glaciers on a global scale”. They observed that the trend was most pronounced during the first half of the 20th century and that glaciers had started to grow again after about 1950. However, they claim that mountain glacier retreat has been accelerating again since the 1980s at a “rate beyond the range of pre-industrial variability”. Based upon a number of scientific investigations (e.g (Kuhn, (1993), (Oerlemans, (1994)) and the IPCC (1996b) there are forecasts that up to a quarter of the global mountain glacier mass could disappear by 2050 and up to half could be lost by 2100. Closer to the present focus of our area of study, Altai glaciers have also been found to be in a state of general retreat since 1911 (Narozhnyi, 2003). More than half of humanity relies on the freshwater that accumulates in mountains (Agenda, (1998) 32). Glaciers are source of several rivers and streams with melt runoff. A significant portion of the low flow contribution of NW Mongolian and Siberian Altai rivers during the dry season is from snow and glaciers melt in the Altai region. The runoff supplies communities with water for drinking, irrigation and is also vital for maintaining river and riparian habitat. It is posited that the accelerated melting of glaciers will cause an increase in river levels over the next few decades, initially leading to higher incidence of flooding and land-slides (IPCC, 2001a).

But, in the longer-term, as the volume of ice available for melting diminishes, a reduction in glacial runoff and river flows can be expected (IPCC 1996b, (Wanchang, 2000))

The main objective of the project is the study of spatial and temporal patterns of climatogenic  transformation of glacial landscapes of the Mongolian and Siberian Altai and identification of changes in their morphological structure based on the study of properties, buildings, spatial differentiation processes and their dynamics over the last century.

The problem to solve is planned:

1. To study the connection between meteo and climate parameters and changes in the landscape structure of mountain glacier basins areas, through remote monitoring of nival-glacial landscapes ;

2. To set the detailed observations of snow, soil and vegetation on the test model ranges of areas, to investigate the dynamics of gravitational processes;

3. To identify a common regional features of climate change and special differences of climate change

Mongolian and Siberian Altai regions on the basis of time series analysis, seasonal air temperatures and precipitation according to established meteorological station.