The book The Treasures of Frozen Burial Mounds of the Kazakh Altai by A. Gorbunov, Z. Samashev and E. Seversky was published in 2005 in English. The first geocryological map of Kazakhstan (scale 1: 5,000,000) was compiled by A.P. Gorbunov and E.V. Seversky.

The study of how permafrost and unfrozen ground react to rapid glacier retreat has been undertaken in the Northern Tien Shan by researchers from the Kazakhstan Alpine Permafrost Laboratory (KAPL). This team continues its study of cryogenic processes and slope evolution in the Zailiysky Alatau Range (Northern Tien Shan Mountains), the KAPL also continues the thermal monitoring of permafrost and seasonally frozen ground.

In cooperation with University of Alaska Fairbanks, a composite digital permafrost map of part of the Central Asian regions was compiled, based on the existing IPA map, Chinese maps and computer-based models for Mongolia, Russian and the four Central-Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan). The map includes the mountain territory of the Central-Asian Republics (Pamir, Tien Shan and Altai Mountains, Djungar Alatau and Saur). The map shows the permafrost extent based both on empirical evidence and on modelling estimates. The modelling approach takes into account the most important environmental controls of permafrost distribution in Central Asia: air temperature, amount of short-wave solar radiation, snow cover, vegetation, and soil properties. The map was presented at the First CliC Conference in Beijing, April 2005. This presentation was aimed at continuing a discussion within the international permafrost community concerning the development of a uniform mapping legend and approach for the Central Asian. Moreover, the following question should be raised: can this mapping approach and legend be applied to other mountain regions of the world, or is it unique to Central Asia?

In 2004, research on thermal regime and ice formation dynamics within a coarse blocky material was activated again in the Zailiysky Alatau Range (Northern Tien Shan). The first results indicate that ice formation linked to infiltration shows a peak in March-April when air temperature above the blocky material crosses the zero threshold, and while temperature is still negative inside the blocky material. During this period, the increase in ice thickness reaches 50 - 100 cm.

In June 2005, two boreholes at 3000 m asl were equipped with new dataloggers with the support from the CALM program. This elevation can be considered as a lower limit of short-term permafrost formation within the fine-grained soils in the Northern Tien Shan Mountains. A vegetation cover such as juniper has a large influence on the ground thermal regime. Sometimes the difference in ground temperature at a depth of three meters under juniper shrub can be 2-3° C lower than in a meadow area. Previous research shows that the permafrost can exist during the summer under these conditions at a depth of 3.5- 5.0 m. The formation of a frozen layer depends also on snow cover and air temperature.

Aldar Gorbunov ( and Sergei Marchenko (