Posts Tagged "kyrgyzstan"

Mines in Kyrgyzstan Exacerbate Glacier Advance

Posted by on Aug 20, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News | 0 comments

Mines in Kyrgyzstan Exacerbate Glacier Advance

Spread the News:ShareMines in Kyrgyzstan contribute to increased glacier advance, according to a new study from Durham University. Over 15 years, the Kumtor gold mine dumped debris in layers as much as 180 meters thick on parts of glaciers. For comparison, 180 meters is about twice the height from the base of the pedestal on which the Statue of Liberty sites to the top of its torch. Researchers looked at glaciers covered by debris from landslides and debris from mines to better understand the impact of glacial processes in the Central Asian country. They found that two glaciers, the Lysii Cirque Glacier and the Davidov Glacier near the Kumtor mine, advanced by 1.2 and 3.2 kilometers, respectively. Most of this movement can be attributed to internal deformation of the ice from the pressure of the added material, rather than to increased sliding at the base of the glacier, where the ice is in contact with the bedrock. “We used high-resolution satellite imagery to map the terminus advance of two glaciers and to map the evolving distribution of mining spoil on the surface of these glaciers,” the authors wrote. “We find not only that glacier ice can have a significant impact upon mining activities, but more importantly, that mining operations can drive significant changes in glacier behavior.” Between 1997 and 2012, the mines dumped more than 775 million tons of rock and ice waste on the surrounding landscape. Under the heavy load of debris, glacial ice became deformed, enhancing ice flow. The new study isn’t the first time the Kumtor mine has been associated with environmental damage. The mining project has been criticized by local communities for contaminating ground and surface water in addition to other negative environmental impacts. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development involved with the project has denied these claims. “Understanding the impact of debris upon glaciers is important not only for gaining insight into past and present glacial response to landslides but also in assessing and mitigating the glaciological, environmental, and infrastructural consequences of mining in glacierized terrain,” the authors wrote. “Increasingly, large-scale mining operations are being developed in glacierized areas, either as glaciers retreat or through and beneath glaciers whilst they are in situ,” they added. “The loss of ice and rock glaciers as a result of mine excavation is a central environmental concern surrounding these developments.” Mining companies in Chile have also dumped waste on glaciers, the article reports, and firms in Canada and Greenland are planning to do so as well. These risks to glaciers may become more frequent, if regulations to protect against them. are not established and enforced. Spread the...

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Mountain Societies Research Institute Enters a New Phase

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in All Posts, Featured Posts, News, Policy and Economics, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Mountain Societies Research Institute Enters a New Phase

Spread the News:ShareA meeting held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 3-5 July 2015 marked an important point in the development of the University of Central Asia’s Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI). The five members of the MSRI Working Group that provides support and oversight to the Institute met with key personnel of the MSRI. They were joined by staff of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN), of which UCA is an institution. Founded in 2011, MSRI is a university-wide, interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities within communities and environments in Central Asian mountain regions, particularly the Pamirs and the Tien Shan Ranges.  MSRI’s goal is to support and enhance the resilience and quality of life of mountain societies through the generation and application of sound research. MSRI addresses a region facing many challenges in the post-Soviet era, including the poorly managed privatization of state enterprises, the outmigration of educated professionals and manual laborers, and the disruption of established patterns of transhumant pastoralism, as well as tensions between countries in the region, political violence in Afghanistan just across the region’s southern border, and climate change impacts, particularly glacier retreat. These challenges all strike the poor and relatively isolated and marginal mountain regions of Central Asian countries with particular force. MSRI’s research serves not only to generate new knowledge, but also to promote education and capacity building more broadly, to support policy and practice for sustainable mountain development, and to serve as a knowledge hub for the region. The use of research to support policy in priority areas is evident in its Background Paper Series, which addresses major themes such as sustainable land management, mountain tourism, and agroforestry for landscape restoration and livelihoods. Its manuals for pasture management and restoration, available in Tajik, Kyrgyz and Russian,  were among the first such resources to reach pastoralists in their own languages. MSRI has worked in conservation as well, for example coordinating with a global program to protect snow leopards through landscape- and community-based programs. Capacity building activities include the opening of a GIS lab available to MSRI partners and the establishment of a school-based program of citizen science in environmental areas such as water quality. MSRI’s mobile digital library, eBilim, reaches underserved mountain regions in Kyrgyzstan with critical resources. However, MSRI is still in its initial phases. Activities will be picking up when the first undergraduate campus of UCA opens next year in Naryn, Kyrgyzstan. Two other campuses will be built in Khorog, Tajikistan (to open in 2018), and in Tekeli, Kazakhstan (2020). The University is distinctive as Central Asia’s first regional university, seeking to promote exchanges among countries that have often looked more to build ties with powerful countries outside the region than with neighboring countries. It is also distinctive in its selection of provincial towns in mountain areas as the sites for main campuses, aiming to serve as development hubs in poor regions that are neglected in relation to the capital cities, where other universities are located. In the mountain regions, glacier retreat is threatening water supplies and increasing the risks associated with natural hazards. The opening of UCA’s first campus will bring students and faculty members, who will engage with MSRI through research projects. There will be significant exchanges between academic departments of the university, such as Economics and Earth & Environmental Sciences, and MSRI. To promote these exchanges and activities, UCA convened the first meeting of the MSRI Working Group.  Its five members all come from different countries: Helmut Echtler from the University of Potsdam in Germany, Hans Hurni from the University of Bern in Switzerland, Yuri Badenkov from the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Xu Jianchu of...

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European Bank Says Mining Projects Don’t Damage Glaciers

Posted by on Jul 8, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts | 0 comments

European Bank Says Mining Projects Don’t Damage Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareFor years, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been involved in the Kumtor mining project, which some experts say is contaminating ground and surface waters. Kyrgyz local communities have been complaining that the gold mine is causing negative environmental and social impacts on the nearby villages. Additionally, international NGOs and Kyrgyz environmentalists believe that the Canadian-operated Centerra Gold mine is triggering rapid glacier melt due to company’s mining practices. The EBRD has denied these claims. In May 2014, I was invited to the EBRD Annual Meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia where I met and interviewed  Alistair Clark (EBRD’s Managing Director Environment and Sustainability Department), Michaela Bergman (EBRD’s Chief Counselor for Social Issues Environment and Sustainability Department), and  Dariusz Prasek (Director, Project Appraisal Environment Department).   Here is an excerpt of the interview: Ryskeldi Satke: on EBRD audits of the Kumtor mine. It looks like drinking water is the main concern here and it was one of the demands in the villages and this problem was raised during protests as well. My understanding is that EBRD has done due diligence on the impact. Why then there is an issue with the drinking water, still? Alistair Clark: There shouldn’t be an issue with the drinking water. For instance, there are monitoring results for water discharge from the mining site available to the public, I believe. Ryskeldi Satke: CEE Bankwatch did an investigation into the mine in 2011 and they were trying to get hydrogeologist Robert Moran onto Kumtor premises but Centerra refused to grant access to Mr. Moran for water quality testing. Moran took samples down the local river stream from the mining project and said that “something is in this water that has been added from the mining activity”. Dariusz Prasek: We followed up on that and 50 samples of water were taken near the Kumtor mine. None of these 50 samples confirmed Mr. Moran’s findings. ERM firm was the consultant. I don’t have all the data in front of me and ERM work never confirmed Moran’s findings. These findings were ungrounded. Something that Mr. Moran took for sampling was never confirmed by the independent consultant. Alistair Clark: We are basing and we took that science in terms of results, you raised that issue. And we’ve got  information that doesn’t confirm Mr. Moran’s findings. So, we are not trying to discredit it and we have body of data that actually says that water is ok for water supply. We can’t comment on why people are protesting. Last time, there was an annual meeting few years ago and issues of Centerra Gold came up. We took claims that were made by Bankwatch and others. We took it very seriously and dispatched two-three people to the mine site to have independent audits done. These claims were not found to be there, company’s practice was in compliance with international best practice and policy. And also, according to requirements that we put onto the project as part of EBRD financing. So when we have information from colleagues like yourself, we’ll look at that data, we’ll look at that information and we would triangulate. We can’t really do much more to stage until we see body of evidence. Ryskeldi Satke: I was recently in Mongolia and we have similar reports from the local people near the Gatsuurt mining project about the drinking water again. What are the odds of having complaints from the local communities in both Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia about the drinking water? Michaela Bergman: I think people can express concerns and it can also be about perceptions. I think we have to understand what these concerns are. We have worked on projects where the data is within whatever...

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Roundup: Irrigation, Monitoring, and Tidewater

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Adaptation, All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Images, News, Roundup, Science, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Roundup: Irrigation, Monitoring, and Tidewater

Spread the News:ShareEvolution of Socio-hydrological Interactions in the Karakoram  “Based on three case studies, this paper describes and analyzes the structure and dynamics of irrigation systems in Upper Hunza, located in the western Karakoram, Pakistan. In these deeply incised and arid valleys, glacier and snow melt-water are the primary water sources for agricultural production. The study shows how glacio-fluvial dynamics impact upon irrigation systems and land use practices, and how, in turn, local communities adapt to these changing conditions: framed here as socio-hydrological interactions. A combined methodological approach, including field observations, interviews, mapping and remote sensing analysis, was used to trace historical and recent changes in irrigation networks and land use patterns.” Read more about this paper.   Glacier Dynamics Monitoring in Kyrgyzstan “The German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ, Potsdam, Germany) and the Central-Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences (CAIAG, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan) jointly established the Global Change Observatory “Gottfried Merzbacher” at the Inylchek Glacier in eastern Kyrgyzstan which is one of the largest non-polar glaciers of the world and consists of two glacier streams. The flow of melt-water from the northern tributary forms a lake (Lake Merzbacher) that is dammed by the calving ice front of the southern Inylchek Glacier. At least once a year a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF) occurs and the complete water of the Lake Merzbacher drains through sub-glacial channels. To monitor the glacier dynamics including the post-drainage ice dam response, a small network of remotely operated multi-parameter stations (ROMPS) was installed at different locations at the glacier.” Read more about this paper.   The Largest Non-polar Tidewater Glacier in Alaska “Hubbard Glacier, located in southeast Alaska, is the world’s largest non-polar tidewater glacier. It has been steadily advancing since it was first mapped in 1895; occasionally, the advance creates an ice or sediment dam that blocks a tributary fjord (Russell Fiord). The sustained advance raises the probability of long-term closure in the near-future, which will strongly impact the ecosystem of Russell Fiord and the nearby community of Yakutat. Here, we examine a 43-year record of flow speeds and terminus position to understand the large-scale dynamics of Hubbard Glacier. Our long-term record shows that the rate of terminus advance has increased slightly since 1895, with the exception of a slowed advance between approximately 1972 and 1984. The short-lived closure events in 1986 and 2002 were not initiated by perturbations in ice velocity or environmental forcings, but were likely due to fluctuations in sedimentation patterns at the terminus.” Read more about this paper. Spread the...

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Photo Friday: Kyrgyz Glaciers

Posted by on Apr 24, 2015 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Images | 0 comments

Photo Friday: Kyrgyz Glaciers

Spread the News:ShareKyrgyzstan, located in Central Asia, is a country with enormous glaciers. About 30% of the total land area in Kyrgyzstan is covered by permanent snow and 4% is covered by glaciers. The total amount of glaciers in Kyrgyzstan is equivalent to 580 billion cubic meters of water, which can cover the whole country to a depth of 3 meters. The most famous glacier is the Enilchek Glacier in the Eastern Tien Shan mountain range. The Kyrgyz are semi-nomadic herders and their nomadic movements still take place seasonally. To learn about political controversies surrounding mining near glaciers in Kyrgyzstan, click here. Panorama of the Glacier Northern Inulchek with the glacial rivers and lakes. he hills Central Tian Shian is located in Central Asia. On the maximum points of this file there passes border of three countries - China, Kazakhstan and the Kirghizstan. On gorges of this hills powerful glaciers with the glacial rivers and lakes proceed. Here the most northern peaks with a mark above 7000ì. Peak of Khan Tengri 7010ì., and peak the Pobeda 7439ì are located. 5107239963_f42971bb19_b 5506051320_7e148753e1_b 6086490322_da8574ebfe_b 5508607661_81d3137d39_b 5107835696_b9b18beb3c_b Photo Friday highlights photo essays and collections from areas with glaciers. If you have photos you’d like to share, let us know in the comments, by Twitter @glacierhub or email us at glacierhub@gmail.com.  Spread the...

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