CORDIS
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Modelling climate change, glacier dynamics, and water availability in the Caucasus

Project information

Grant agreement ID: INTAS 2006-1000017-8608

  • Start date

    1 February 2007

  • End date

    31 January 2009

Funded under:

IC-INTAS

  • Overall budget:

    € 114 000

  • EU contribution

    € 120 000

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITY OF READING

United Kingdom

Objective

Valley glaciers are highly sensitive to climatic change. Constituting only around 3% of the Earth's glaciated area, they are of critical importance because they may be melting rapidly affecting regional water balance. The state of a valley glacier depends on a balance between input (accumulation) and output of mass (melt) over a period of time. Both are highly sensitive to variations of climate. The climate-glacier dynamics in the Caucasus Mountains have received comparatively little scientific study. Yet such a study is great importance because (i) the Caucasus is one of Eurasia's main glaciated mountainous systems; (ii) it is an important source area of discharge to the Caspian Sea which is very sensitive to any fluctuations in water balance; (iii) extensive agriculture exists in the area that is dependent on irrigation supported by glacial discharge; (iv) future deglaciation may exacerbate water shortage in the long-term potentially restricting development. The main objective of the project is to quantify the recent past, current, and future sensitivity of mountain glaciers and their discharge to climatic changes in the Caucasus and to provide estimates of impacts of glacial melt on regional climate and water balance in response to future climate change scenarios. These objectives will be achieved through the combined use of field observations, remote sensing techniques, and numerical climate and hydrological modelling used in conjunction with modelling of glacier mass balance and changes in the area and volume of glacier ice. To quantify the climate-glacier-discharge dynamics, meteorological, hydrological, and mass balance data will be collected and analysed at two sites in the northern (Russia) and southern (Georgia) Caucasus. No such observations have been conducted in Georgia since 1990. We will use PRECIS modelling system based on HadRM3 regional climate model (RCM)to generate projections of future climate and hydrological conditions for the A2 and B2 emission scenarios (strong and medium increase in CO2). An important advantage of this method is that a vast array of climatic and hydrological variables will be generated for a regular grid with 25 km horizontal resolution covering the whole of the Caucasus region. The use of an RCM will allow us to assess not only glacier response to changing climate but to evaluate the feedbacks evoked by glacial retreat through the assessment of sensitivity of local climates to projected changes in the extent of glaciers. This will address the weakness of many studies which are aimed at the evaluation of response of individual glaciers to climate change and do not permit feedbacks in climate-glacier system. Numerical climate modelling will provide input data for the modelling of glacier discharge and changes in regional water balance. The project will deliver a comprehensive assessment of climate-glacier-water balance dynamics in the Caucasus region and its results will be made widely available.

Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors, Credit: EC-GISCO, © EuroGeographics for the administrative boundaries

Coordinator

UNIVERSITY OF READING

Address

Whiteknights
Reading

United Kingdom

Participants (3)

LUDWIG-MAXIMILIANS-UNIVERSITÄT MÜNCHEN

Germany

MOSCOW STATE UNIVERSITY (MGU)

Russia

VAKHUSHTI BAGRATIONI INSTITUTE OF GEOGRAPHY

Georgia

Project information

Grant agreement ID: INTAS 2006-1000017-8608

  • Start date

    1 February 2007

  • End date

    31 January 2009

Funded under:

IC-INTAS

  • Overall budget:

    € 114 000

  • EU contribution

    € 120 000

Coordinated by:

UNIVERSITY OF READING

United Kingdom