In 1995 the Laboratory of Geocryology of the International Centre of Geoecology of Mountain Countries in Arid Regions (ICGM) continued and extended the regular observations on the program of geocryological monitoring. Main attention was focused on the thermal regime of permafrost and seasonal freezing-thawing under different natural conditions of the Northern Tien Shan (Zailiysky Alatau). Climate changes result in permafrost "warming," increased seasonal thawing depth, reduction of thickness, and disappearance of the "pereletoks" at the lower boundary. Despite considerable year-to-year fluctuation there is a general trend of rising mean annual temperature and reduction of the layer of seasonal freezing.

Investigations of the influence of climate and permafrost warming on the dynamics of rock glaciers, solifluction and thermokarst processes, frost heaving, and glacial mud-flow continue. The active rock glaciers of the Northern Tien Shan were classified and a map of their distribution (1:200,000) was compiled. Fluctuations of the movement velocity of the rock glacier Gorodetsky (Zailiysky Alatau) since 1923 were evaluated. On the northeastern part of the Ketmen and  Karatau Ranges, research was begun into the unique cryogenic feature of the Tien Shan forest solifluction. On the basis of the map of cryogenic features (scale 1:25,000) of the Bolshava Almatinka basin using special methods, evaluation of permafrost and ground ice volumes was carried out. Using temperature data from deep boreholes and simulation methods, variations of permafrost temperatures in the Holocene were estimated.
The Laboratory of Snow Cover and Avalanches (ICGM) carried out observations of snow cover and avalanche activity
monitoring on the northern slope of Zailiysky Alatau. Data on the duration of snow cover and the depth and water content on slopes of different exposures and altitudinal zones were obtained. The volumes of the avalanches were mapped and measured. A database of multi-year snow cover observations in the mountains of Kazakhstan was prepared. Spatial-temporal variability of the snow parameters was analyzed. A map of maximum snow storage and its variability (1:500,000) was drawn for the territory of Zailiysky Alatau, Kungei Alatau, Ketmen and Dzhungarsky Alatau.
The ICGM proposed a 50-year forecast of glacial evolution in the Northern Tien Shan and the Pjungar (or Dzhungarsky) Alatau.


Submitted by A.P. Gorbunov and I.V. Seversky