In 1997, the International Center of Geoecology of Mountains in Arid Regions (ICGM) continued observations on monitoring the thermal regime of seasonally and perennially frozen ground at the special polygon for thermometry in the basin of the Bolshaya Almatinka River (Zailiysky Alatau Range, Northern Tien Shan). The polygon includes over 30 observation sites with different conditions of absolute elevation, ground and vegetation. Observations of the dynamics of representative rock glaciers as well as glacio-hydrophysical observations on the Tuyuksu Glacier were continued. Winter observations of the frost heaving of seasonal mounds (thufurs) showed that the vertical movement of their surfaces reaches 10 cm, i.e. about one-third of the height of these features in summer.
An inventory of rock glaciers of the Dzungar Alatau Range has been undertaken. In the territory studied (about two-thirds of the range), 489 rock glaciers occupying a total area of 40.25 km2 have been recorded. Of this total, 426 features covering 33.37 km2 are considered active. On the basis of this inventory, a Map of Rock Glaciers of Dzungar Alatau has been compiled at 1:500,000.
In July and August, the Laboratory of Geocryology investigated permafrost in the morainic dam of the lake associated with mud–debris flow in the Northern Tien Shan, near Almaty. The permafrost thickness at 3600 m a.s.l. is about 100 m and active layer thickness is 1.5–3.5 m, depending on the slope orientation.
In August, the Laboratory of Mountain Geoecology organized an international expedition to the Inylchek Glacier (Central Tien Shan) supported by the G. Ebert Foundation (Germany) with scientists from Germany, Austria and Uzbekistan. This expedition confirmed the surge of the northern Inylchek Glacier, which up to the present time was not considered to be a surging glacier. During one month, starting 6 July, the glacier moved down-valley for 4.5 km and reached the position it occupied in 1932. At the same time, the expedition of the Laboratory of Glaciology determined that the mass balance of the Tuyuksu Glacier this summer was close to its extreme negative value.
In October, Kazakstan joined the CALM program. Temperature recorders were installed to a depth of 4.5 m (thickness of the active layer) in a borehole in the mountains of the Northern Tien Shan (43°N, 77°E, 3330 m a.s.l.).
In late 1996, a book by A.P. Gorbunov, E.V. Seversky and S.N. Titkov, The Geocryology of the Tien Shan and Pamir, was published (in Russian). It contains information about permafrost and seasonal freezing processes of the Northern and Inner Tien Shan, as well as results of investigations and mapping of different periglacial features of the Tien Shan, Pamir-Alai and Dzungar Alatau. The ICGM has completed preparations for publishing of four volumes of the Catalog of Glaciers of the Northern Tien Shan. A Map of Thickness, Water Content and Duration of Snow Cover in the Mountains of Southeastern Kazakstan at 1:1,000,000 has been compiled. In China, with the participation of the ICGM, the book Snow and Avalanches in the Tien Shan (in Chinese) has been published.
Submitted by A.P. Gorbunov and I.V. Seversky (email@example.com)