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Kyrgyzstan’s Glacial Floods a Growing Risk

Kyrgyzstan's geologists: trying to prevent disaster on a shoestring budget. (Photo: Adriane Lochner)

It is a tough climb to the weather station: The trail leads across snow-covered boulder fields and steep, icy slopes. But for four researchers from Kyrgyzstan’s Geology and Mineral Resources Agency, the six-hour climb to the Adygene Glacier weather station, perched at 3,600 meters above sea level, is routine. From there, they can monitor 18 growing lakes at the glacier snout in the mountains above Bishkek.
 
The largest of these melt-water lakes is a potential hazard for the capital city, 40 kilometers down the valley, says the team’s debris expert, Vitaly Zaginaev. “The lake is dammed by an underground ice plug that usually thaws slowly and feeds the Ala-Archa River. If the temperature rises too fast, the ice melts rapidly and can cause a sudden outburst. The flood could develop into a mudslide, endangering not only the valley but possibly also Bishkek,” Zaginaev told EurasiaNet.org.
 

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Adriane Lochner is a Bishkek-based writer.

Kyrgyzstan’s Glacial Floods a Growing Risk

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