Project in Central Asia (2005-10)
The high elevation snowfields of the Pamir and Tien Shan contain robust records documenting: moisture advection into central Asia from the Atlantic and Arctic; dynamics of the westerly jet stream, the Siberian High, and Asian monsoon; and naturally and humanly forced environmental change over central Asia.
Figure 1: Large accumulation plateau at a head
of the Fedchenko Glacier (Pamir)
Figure 2: Note scarcity of data in the Pamir
compared to much of the rest of Asia.
See references for research conducted in the regions depicted.
Click on map to view larger
The current spatial coverage of ice-core records from the Altai, Tibet and the Himalaya is inadequate to document climatic and environmental changes over the northern region of central Asia through the Holocene, even though central Asian glaciers have been studied continuously since the 19th century by Russian scientists and despite the apparent sensitivity of this region to future climate change.
The proposed Pamir ice core will be the deepest non-polar ice core record ever recovered.
There are several accumulation basins in the Pamir and Tien Shan located over 5500 m with ice thicknesses greater than 500 m and reaching to 1,000 m. These areas are suitable for the recovery and development of ice core climatic and environmental records extending back over 100,000 years. In addition, the central Asia long-term meteorological, synoptic, aerosol, and dust storm records provide an ideal platform for ice-core data calibration, validation and interpretation.
The CADIP ice cores have the potential to accomplish several major scientific objectives.
The Pamir are located in a region that influences hemispheric scale climate and is expected to experience major environmental change as a consequence of warming. Little past climate information exists from the Pamir and central Asia in general. Asia has a long history of diverse civilization and a large potential for dramatic impact by humans in the near future related to demand for land use, water demand, and general development of society.
Landsat image of the Fedchenko Glacier in Pamir
and large accumulation area at the head
of the glacier proposed for deep ice-coring
Pamir drilling site characteristics:
Altitude 5300 and 5800 m
Square 50 km2
Accumulation 800 g cm-2/yr
Ice depth varies 500 to 1,000 m
Temperature at 9 m depth -8°C (5280 m)
Major scientific objectives for CADIP are:
(1) Extract and evaluate climate signals recorded in Pamir glacier ice through glaciochemical and isotope time-series and investigate inter-annual/decadal to centennial/millennial ˝scale climate change, atmospheric dynamics, and water cycle variability over north-central Asia in detail through the Holocene.
(2) Reconstruct past changes in: air temperature, snow accumulation, precipitation origin, regional to local scale atmospheric dynamics (western-jet stream, Siberian and Tibetan Highs and eastern and western limbs of the Indian monsoon), and regional to global scale teleconnections with ENSO and the polar cell in a region and compare to past and modern climate records.
(3) Investigate naturally and humanly forced environmental changes over central Asia including: evolution of major and trace elements (eg., carbonaceous particles, Sc, Pb, Hg, Cd, Sb), anthropogenic impact on the geochemical cycle of the elements, assessment of dust emissions and source regions over central Asia during major periods of climate change during the Holocene.
(4) Reconstruct past environmental changes for the last several thousand years in order to interpret impact upon human history, particularly because of the long record of human occupation in this region and the availability of records of human history in central Asia.
(5) Reconstruct temporal variations in supra-glacial biological activity to assess impact of climate change on ecosystems in high altitude environments.
(6) Model the effects of changes in aerosol concentrations on the magnitude and temporal distribution of precipitation, temperature, and hydrological cycle and the impact of climatic change on desertification over central Asia.