The Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory continued monitoring of the thermal regime of permafrost, active layer (CALM programme), seasonally frozen ground and dynamics of rock glaciers in the Northern Tien Shan.

During summer 2002 the geodetic observation net registrering the rate of movement of Gorodetsky rock glacier was extended. N. Palgov started the geodetic net in 1923. Over a 79-year period, mean displacement of the central part of the frontal lobe of the rock glacier was 72 m or 0,91 m/yr. Some parts of the rock glacier reached a maximum surface movement velocity of 2.0-2.2 m/yr during the few last years.

Investigations of anthropogenic landscape modifi cation and associated natural processes in permafrost areas were continued. An example is the construction of a road from Almaty to the south shore of Issyk Kul Lake triggering natural processes. The 100-kilometer road crosses two mountain ranges, the Transili Alatau and the Kungei Alatau, and rises to the continuous permafrost belt at an elevation of 3800 m asl. At one location the road cut the front of a rock glacier initiating slope processes. As a result, material from the rock glacier fell on the road in the first year after construction.

Geomorphologic studies were carried out in the Talgar, Asy and Turgen valleys, Northern Tien Shan, together with German scientists led by T. Bolch, Department of Geography, University of Erlangen-Nurnberg. The studies focussed on mapping the distribution of cryogenic landforms and mudfl ow deposits, relief evolution and comparison of periglacial environments of different valleys depending on microclimatic, and topographic factors.

Collection of spatial data on the distribution of mountain permafrost in the Northern Tien Shan continued. The lower permafrost boundary on south-facing slopes in the Transili Alatau Range, 43° N, was found at 3250 m asl in coarse blocky materials.

At the international permafrost workshop in Mongolia, September 2001, an international team (China, Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan) decided to prepare a permafrost map of Central Asia. Therefore a meeting was held 2-7 April at the Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute, CAREERI, Lanzhou, China on the compilation of the Central Asian Map of Permafrost and Ground Ice Conditions. The participants of the meeting, Guo Dongxin, Li Shuxun, Li Shude, Tong Boliang, Zhao Lin, Nan Zuotong and Sergei Marchenko, discussed the regionalisation and classifi cation of permafrost areas in Central Asia, mountain and high plateau permafrost distribution, permafrost temperatures, ice content and the distribution of periglacial phenomena. At the meeting the existing mountain permafrost mapping were reviewed. Partial fi nancial support for the meeting in China were provided by grants from the National Snow and Ice Data Center, Boulder, USA, and from CAREERI, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Lanzhou.

Aldar Gorbunov and Sergei Marchenko (permafrost@astel.kz)