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Focus Site Central Asia – Palaeoclimate, Environment and Climate Change

Central Asia, extending between the Caucasus and the eastern Tibetan Plateau, with a semiarid/arid belt with water shortage to the west and a glaciered mountainous area with very unstable surface conditions to the east, holds a key position for understanding geodynamic and climate processes. Given the climatic and topographic features, Central Asia provides a natural laboratory to monitor risk scenarios related to water excess and shortage, and high seismicity. This initiative aims to investigate cause-effect-relations of landscape evolution at different spatial and temporal scales using ground and space-based monitoring systems.

Within the frame of the GFZ focus site Central Asia scientists from section 4.3 are investigating particularly the dynamics of climate and environment of the region. We must turn to palaeo-records (in particular from caves and lakes) for a wider spectrum of climate variability, environmental changes, and natural hazards because there is no modern analogue situation for the predicted climate change and the magnitude and recurring frequency of disastrous events as earth quakes, landslides, lake outbreaks and floods. The complexity evidences that scientific networking between different disciplines will be mandatory.

Freshly cut laminated sediment from anchor mud of Lake Sary-Chelek

Investigations of lake sediments and limno-monitoring

Investigations of lake sediments and limno-monitoring is focused currently on two shallow, large lakes of intramontane basins (Lake Son Kul at 3061 m NN, and Lake Chatyr Kul, at 3520 m NN), and one deep lake build behind a natural dam from an avalanche (Sary Chelek, at 1873 m NN).

Speleothems of the Uluu-Too cave

Speleothems and Monitoring

Speleothems from caves form excellent archives of palaeoclimatology and -hydrology. They can be accurately dated with U/Th technique back to 500.000 yrs.


The investigations are currently focused on the Kyrgyz Republic and are supported by the Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences (CAIAG) in Bishkek. In addition to Kyrgyzstan, other countries in the region such as Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan are increasingly included in the studies. Aside CAIAG, there are already cooperative relationships with the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University Bishkek, the Mountain Societies Research Institute of the University of Central Asia and the Institute of Water Problems and Hydro-Power of the Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences. Several partners from Germany (FU Berlin, TU Braunschweig, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena) were and are involved in various projects (e.g. BMBF-CADY, BMBF-CAHOL, BMBF-PALESCA - see completed projects).

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