Glacier characteristics and changes in the sary-jaz river basin (Central tien shan, kyrgyzstan) – 1990–2010

Azamat Osmonov, Tobias Bolch, Chen Xi*, Alishir Kurban, Wanqing Guo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The water discharge from the heavily glacierized Sary-Jaz River Basin (Eastern Kyrgyzstan) is of high importance for the very arid Tarim Basin located in Xinjiang (north-western China). We investigated glacier changes in the entire Sary-Jaz River Basin, which covers a large part of the Central Tien Shan, for the period from 1990 to 2010 based on Landsat ‘TM’/‘ETM +’data. We found 1310 glaciers (> 0.1 km2), which covered 2055 ± 41.1 km2 (∼ 18% of the entire basin) in 1990. The glaciers shrank by 77.1 ± 57.1 km2 (3.7 ± 2.7%) until 2010. This is considerably lower than in most other ranges of the Tien Shan. The lowest insignificant area loss (− 1.5 ± 2.7%) was found in the eastern part of the basin where the largest glaciers and highest peaks are situated. Debris-covered glaciers shrank significantly less than clean-ice glaciers of comparable size. We also identified a few advancing glaciers which show surge characteristics. Climate data from the Tien Shan weather station (3614 m asl.) close to the study region showed no significant long-term trend.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-734
Number of pages10
JournalRemote Sensing Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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