• Location: Lakhsh District, Tajikistan; 39.12°N, 74.41°E
  • Operational Management: Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, Birmensdorf, Switzerland; Center for the Research of Glaciers (CRG), Tajik Academy of Sciences, Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Institute of Science and Technology Austria ISTA, Vienna, Austria.
  • Purpose/Scientific Focus: The primary focus of the research is to investigate glaciological and hydrological processes relating to Kyzylsu Glacier, at the head of a small catchment tributary to the major Muksu River. Several major hydro-meteorological stations were installed in June 2021 on and around the glacier.  There is relatively easy access to the site by Jeep/Truck to base camp (3350m a.s.l.), which is located 20 to 40 minutes walk from Kyzylsu Glacier. 


  • Location (Physiographic Region): Western Pamir, Lakhsh District. 
  • Area: 162 km2 
  • Elevation: Min. 2,115 m to Max. 5,835 m; Mean 3,763 m  
  • Description (Physical–Ecological–Climatic Characteristics): Alpine meadows. Semi-arid site, winter-accumulation type glaciers. The driest months are usually in the second part of summer (August – September). This site is home to different group of shepherds with their cows and sheep, such that a lot of grazing occurs during the summer.    
  • Drainage/River System: Each of the three main glaciers located within the catchment boundary have a pro-glacial stream, which merge near the catchment outlet, close to the village of Muk (39.160061, 71.551708, 2067m).
  • Site History/Historical Context: It has been a site where shepherds come with their cows, sheep and cows for decades. Scientific investigations started in June 2021.   
  • Glacierized Area: 19.6%, based on RGI 6.0 inventory.  
  • Main Land Cover(s): Grass and bushes from 2110m to 3700m, rocky and glaciated above that. Little to no trees within the whole catchment.  
  • Lithology/Soils: Varied metamorphic sandstones. 
  • Mean Annual Temperature: −2.1°C
  • Mean Total Annual Precipitation: 369 mm
  • Snow Characteristics: Seasonal, continental. Time-lapse records suggest substantial wind redistribution.  
  • Years of Data: June 2021 to present  

Stations & Observations

Observational Stations and Sites

Type Station Name Latitude Longitude Elevation Notes/Details
Meteorological AWS_Pluviometer 39.11501°N 71.41185°E 3,372 m Most complete station, long-term installation
Meteorological AWS_3900m 39.10003°N 71.43205°E 3,910 m
Meteorological AWS_OnGlacier 39.09693°N 71.41767°E 3,538 m On the debris-covered area of Kyzylsu Glacier

Air temperature logger

Tlogger_2100 39.15813°N 71.54635°E 2,130 m Naturally ventilated. Equipped with a graduated PWC pipe and monitored by a time-lapse camera for snow depth.

Air temperature logger

Tlogger_3200 39.13530°N 71.44237°E 3,201 m Same as above
Air temperature logger Tlogger_3500 39.10609°N 71.42113°E 3,505 m Same as above
Air temperature logger TloggerOn_3650 39.08307°N 71.42011°E 3,651 m Same as above
Air temperature logger Tlogger_3900 39.10003°N 71.43205°E 3,910 m Same as above, and replaced in 2022 by AWS 3900m
Hydrometric Stream_gauge_Koshkul 39.1343°N 71.45033°E 3,150 m
Hydrometric Stream_gauge_Kyzylsu 39.1109°N 71.41408°E 3,369 m Destroyed in 2023 by a flood
Hydrometric Stream_gauge_Muk 39.1577°N 71.5468°E 2,112 m Destroyed in 2023 by a flood
Hydrometric Lake_BaseCamp_pressure 39.1199°N 71.407264°E 3,371 m

Field Observation Campaigns and Other Measurements


Instrumentation Description

Spatial/Temporal Resolution and Coverage


UAV Sensors

DJI Mavic 2 Enterprise quadcopter UAV

1 survey in Jul 2021 and 1 survey in Sep 2021. 2 zones were surveyed on the debris-covered ablation area of Kyzylsu glacier.

Images were used with SfM photogrammetry to reconstruct the Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) and orthoimages of the survey domains georeferenced with the Ground Control Points surveyed with dGPS.

Time-lapse Photographs

DSLR Canon E2000D

4 cameras, taken pictures every 2 hours

Used for snow depth/snow cover/glacier flow monitoring


4 cameras, taking 2 pictures per day

Used for snow depth and/or stream monitoring

Debris Covered Ice Elevation


Annual survey, ~15 points

dGPS survey of mass balance stakes and stations on the ablation area.

Campbell Scientific - SR50

Jul 2021 – Present

15 minutes

At AWS_OnGlacier, re-drilled in the ice every year

Glacier Mass Balance

Mass balance stakes

Annual visit.
8 to 10 stakes distributed in the ablation area.

Read out the change in stake height above the surface and re-drill when necessary

Glacier Ice Thickness




Supraglacial debris thickness

Digging axe + tape measure

123 pits surveyed in September 2023

The 123 pits cover the debris-covered area of Kyzylsu Glacier.

Data Availability

Geospatial Data

Available Geospatial Data

Notes (e.g., Source, Resolution, Error/Uncertainty, Date, etc.)


Digital elevation model (DEM) processed from Pleiades high-resolution bi-stereo imagery. DEM resolution: 2m. Uncertainty remains to be quantified. Dates:

May 2021, July 2021, September 2021, May 2022, September 2022, May 2023, September 2022. Pleieades tasking will be repeated twice per year until 2024.

Landcover and Soils

Land-cover: Clipped from the 20° x 20° PROBAV 100m land cover discrete classification map, which can be downloaded at this link: https://lcviewer.vito.be/download.

Soil: Based on SOILGRIDS. The soil depth was extracted from the product: depth to bedrock (R horizon) up to 200 cm predicted using the global compilation of soil ground observations, which can be downloaded at this link: https://data.isric.org/geonetwork/srv/eng/catalog.search#/metadata/bfb01655-db81-4571-b6eb-3caae86c037a

Basin Delineation/Shapefile

Automatically delineated based on the catchment outlet location (39.1577, 71.5468) and the AW3D DEM resampled to 100m (spatial resolution used for our model work).

Supreglacial debris cover

Supgraglacial debris extent used from Scherler et al. 2018.
Glacier thickness used from Farinotti et al. 2019 and glacier outlines from the RGI 6.0 inventory.

Modelling Activities

Land-surface model (called Tethys-Chloris, cf. Fatichi et al. 2012), applied hourly 100m resolution from 2010 to 2022.

The model is forced with ERA5Land statistically downscaled and bias-corrected using the meteorological observation collected by the stations described in this document.

The purpose of the modelling work is to understand and quantify the main components of the catchment water balance (evapotranspiration, snowfall, snowmelt, icemelt, runoff, etc..), and their sensitivity to climate change.

Contact & Further Information

Additional Information 




Contact Information

Francesca Pellicciotti

Swiss project leader


Evan Miles

Swiss project coordinator


Achille Jouberton

Swiss fieldwork leader