Special resources

Tianshan Glaciological Station



1. About Tianshan Glaciological Station

Tianshan Glaciological Station is a field station that devoted to observe of China's glaciers and glacier area. The Tianshan Glaciological Station was established in 1959 which was proposed by academician Shi Yafeng, and it joined the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) glacier monitoring network in 1981, it became the Chinese Academy of Science's first batch of opening station in 1988, and it is rated as an a class station. It was awarded the honor of Advance Collectivity in Field work in the CAS evaluation in 1997 and it became the first batch of national key wild testing station in 1999. It passed the certification and became national key station formally in 2006 and became the special environment-net key station of CAS in 2007.

Tianshan Glaciological Station is located at the upper part and headwaters area of UrumqiRiver in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (43.05 ° N; 86.49 ° E). It is made up of base station and upper station. The base station is located at Urumqi Riverhead in mountain valley with altitude of 2130 m a.s.l., and it covers an area of about 6000 m2. It has a meteorological observation field and a cold area plant testing land. The base station also has a laboratory, library, exhibition rooms, academic offices, entertainment room, and other research facilities. The upper station is located at 3545 m a.s.l., covers an area of about 1000 m2, 35 km away from the base station, and it is an accommodation for the study and observation staffs and also a place where the logistic equipment stored in.

2. Research

Presently, 11 % of the earth surface is covered by glaciers which have the most sensitive and intense responses to climate change and contain rich high-resolution paleo climate and the environment information as well. The glaciers and the polar ice sheet preserve 68.7 % of the world fresh water. In the arid and semiarid areas of western China, glacier meltwater is the major water supply and the glacial runoff variation resulting from the climatic change has a significant impact on the economic activities and development of these areas. With the global climate warming, the majority glaciers in the world have been remarkably retreating since the mid-20th century. The rate of the shrinkage shows accelerated tendency in the recent 20 years, which contributes to the change of water resources and ecological environments. It has raised great attention internationally so that glacier monitoring and studies become one of international hot spot in the global change research filed. For example, the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the American former Vice President Al Gore and IPCC, whose research work was largely associated with the variation of glaciers and ice sheets. In addition, glacier research is one of the key research contents of CliC (Climate and Cryosphere) /WCRP, a well-known international cryospheric research program.

The research direction of the Tianshan Glaciological Station (TGS) is to post the nature environment flux history, predict the change trend and the impact to humanity by the observation research about some physical, chemical and biological processes, evolvement disciplinary research to glacier and glacier observation regions. The research includes glacier internal and external physics, chemistry, and energetic characteristics, also processes and included environment, climate information which involve interaction between glacier and other earth circles (atmosphere, geosphere, and biosphere). Thus this is the main body of the observation research. The research content of the glacier effect regions is much wider included snow, physiognomy of periglacial areas, quaternary geological physiognomy, glacier hydrology, meteorology, frozen earth, entironment of high altitude regions, resources utilization and so on.

The observation of TGS includes both conventional and special projects. The conventional observation project is a historical observation program which is established by scholarship committee of TGS. It is implemented, standardized and maintained by TGS. The special observation project is implemented by scientific research items and TGS. It will be ended after the completion of research projects. According to incompletely statistics, there are more than 300 kinds of special observations since the TGS was founded. The conventional observation involves in six different subjects and about one hundred special topics.

Urumqi Glacier No. 1 at the headwater of Tianshan Ürümqi River is one of the glaciers monitored by Tianshan Glaciological Station. It is the only glacier which has been monitored for the longest-term in China. It has a unique geographic location that in the alpine zone of the Northwest of China which is surrounded by the arid regions of the Central Asia. Consequently, it is a representative glacier to study the changes of the water resources in the arid areas. It is also a sensitivity glacier that responses of the climate change.

Glacier No. 1 is also the only glacier in China which is monitored in the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS) network. It has an important position in this network. Only 10 glaciers in the global are mainly monitored by WGMS, and Glacier No.1 is one of them. The observation datasets of Glacier No.1 are regularly published on different publications which are chiefly edited by the International Commission on Snow and Ice of the International Association of Hydrological Sciences, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and UNESCO (IAHS (ICSI)-UNEP-UNSCO). The data come from the long-term field observation datasets of Tianshan Glaciological Station has been widely used in a variety of World Change Research Programs. It has also been embodied by many kinds of data reports and databases, and widely cited by many important reports like IPCC Report. Overall, Glacier No.1 has attracted a large number of international and domestic experts and scholars to come and carry out cooperative researches.

To extend the observation and monitoring results of Glacier No. 1 to others, and to study the regional representation of Glacier No. 1, with the leading of the Tianshan Glaciological Station academic committee, since 1998 Tianshan Glaciological Station carried out for positioning field observing and monitoring different glaciers of the Tianshan Mountains, and gradually set up three second grade positioning positions, that is the Kuitun River Haxilegen 51 glacier and Miaoergou Ice Cap, in 2007, a new observation point was created in Tianshan Tuomuer Peak Qingbingtan 72 glacier, thus formed the integrity of the 1700km Tianshan Mountains Glacier Observation System in China.

3. Personnel

Currently there are 18 staff in the station, among which there are 6 innovated persons of researcher and associate researcher. Besides, there are other 12 workers, including 2 engineers, one lab and net technique worker, and 5 person for observation, and one for logistics, one driver, and one Kitchener.

Actually, there are three kinds staff in our station. First is the six researchers and observers, about 33% of all staff, with an average age of 41, including 5 PH.D and students. These people are mainly focus in research and the observation work, and the data analysis. Second is the people for technique associate, total 4 persons, in charge with the data auditing, lab and network service. Last are the general observers, total 5 persons, with mean age of 30. These workers are mainly for the observation in the field work, which account for 28% of total staff.

4. Current Research Projects

  From 1999 to 2005, Tianshan Glaciological Station undertook various types of a total of nineteen scientific research projects, including national scientific research projects, departmental scientific research projects and regional scientific research projects, which were undertaken by fixed researchers and guest professors in the Tianshan Glaciological Station. And the expenditure of these projects was about 4 million yuan.

According to the incomplete statistics, during 2006 to 2008, there were five new scientific research projects in Tianshan Glaciological Station, which were undertaken by the researchers of Tianshan Glaciological Station or other researchers. These five projects included one youth fund project and one surface project of the National Natural Science Foundation, one independent project of the State Key Laboratory of Cryospheric Sciences and two other projects. The expenditure of these projects was above 1.5 million yuan. At present, Tianshan Glaciological Station undertakes various types of a total of twenty scientific research projects whose expenditure is more than 10 million yuan.

5. Cooperation

Co-operative study of Tianshan Glaciological Station with national and international institutes is rich and pragmatism. More than 20 researchers from abroad come to develop exchange and cooperation every year. Also at home there enjoyed extensively Co-operation and exchanges in the fields of Periglacial geological features and ecological botany with Beijing University, Lanzhou University, Xinjiang Agricultural University, Institute of Botany and Institute of Geology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

In recent years, international cooperation was developed in two levels. Firstly, long-term exchanges and co-operation with Cryosphere monitoring of the international organization and research institutions is in progress. Secondly, cooperative research in hot topic is carried out with several institutes. For instance, U.S. PRDC (Polar Research and Development Center), Desert Research Institute of American, University of Alaska USA, National soil Center of American, Department of Geology, University of Wisconsin of USA, the seventh University Geophysics Institute of Paris,National Chung Hsing University of Taiwan et.al.

6. Contact us

Address: Tianshan Glaciological Station,CAREERI, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 320 Donggang West Rd. Lanzhou 730000, P.R.China 

Station Address: Tianshan Glaciological Station, Urumuqi Houxia, 830035, P.R.China 

Phones: 0931-8275470, 0991-5932196

Fax: 0931-8275470


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