The Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory (KAPL) continues its study of cryogenic processes and slope evolution in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains, and continues monitoring temperatures of permafrost and seasonally frozen rocks.

In the Zailiyskiy Alatau Mountains, no significant temperature change was noticed in permafrost at an elevation of 3300–3400 m asl during the last decade. Climate change in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains at various high-altitude zones did not have any noticeable impact on temperature regime of the seasonally frozen rock or on the depth of seasonal freezing.

In the late spring 2004, several rockslides occurred on the loess slopes in the low mountain area of the Zailiyskiy Alatau. These rockslides caused casualties and destroyed several construction sites. It is very likely that these rockslides were affected by the unusual type of seasonal freezing, i.e. by slope cryogenic processes.

A geocryological map (scale 1:25000) of the Malaya Almatinka river basin (Northern Tien Shan) was compiled using GIS. The book Mountain Permafrost: from the Equator to Polar Latitudes by A.P. Gorbunov was published in 2003 in Russian.

Intense glaciers retreat has been observed in the Tien Shan and the Pamir-Alai during the last 50 years. Over this period, in the Northern Tien Shan, the glaciated area was reduced by 30 percent and the periglacial zone consequently encountered some modifications: thermokarst and mudflow became more active on recent moraines. The (KAPL) developed a high interest in these landforms and processes. In the near future, it is planned to monitor rock glacier movement in the Bolshaya Almatinka river basin (Zailiyskiy Alatau Range, Northern Tien Shan).

New information is available about Tashrabat, the oldest building on permafrost in the mountains of Central Asia. It was built in the early 11th century, used for 300 years and recently reconstructed. This massive stone building is located in Kyrgyzstan, in the Atbashi Range near the Tashrabat Pass at 3200 m asl (40852¢ N; 75816¢ E). The perennial frozen state of the “cultural” ground layer, and the ground subsidence at the eastern wall after thawing of the frozen coarse detrital ground was observed in late 1970 during archeological excavations.

Aldar Gorbunov and Eduard Severskiy (