Project 650 - 3rd Pamir High Elevation International Geophysical Expedition
Seasonal snow and glaciers of the Pamir Mountains supply water to over 60 million people in Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and north-west China. The proposed international collaborative research project: “3rd Pamir’s High Elevation International Geophysical Expedition” (HEIGE), will advance evaluation of the past, present, and future climate and water resources in the Pamir Mountains by assessing impacts of natural variability and modern human activity. The proposed research will estimate the potential for abrupt climate and water resource change via major climate drivers such as changes in solar activity, greenhouse gases, atmospheric circulation and atmospheric aerosols, water/nitrogen cycles, and sea surface temperature.
HEIGE will plan to recover surface to bedrock ice cores from the glaciers in central and eastern Pamir, mainly in the territory of Tajikistan, including an ice-core drilling site up to 1km deep at the Fedchenko Glacier. This will be the deepest ice-core ever drilled outside of the Polar Regions, thus providing climate records at a uniquely high-resolution time scale. The results of HEIGE are critical for the development of adaptation and mitigation practices required to maximize socio-economic sustainability in Tajikistan and surrounding Central Asia countries in a changing climate and will answer the following science questions:
- Will climate thresholds be crossed that change the current state of water resources, and if so where, how fast, and how much?
- How will local and regional changes in climate, snow cover, glaciers, and permafrost impact the regional hydrology, land degradation, and ecosystem?
International collaborative efforts with the Central Asian countries, and in particular the Republic of Tajikistan, is also being facilitated by UNESCO through joint coordination and support by the International Hydrological Programme (IHP) and International Geoscience Programme (IGCP) in a regional context of scientific advancement and capacity building activities in Central Asia.