'Third Pole' Glacier Research Gets a Boost From China

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Science  02 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6060, pp. 1199
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6060.1199

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Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, which funded glaciology to gauge central Asia's water supply, research facilities have fallen into disuse or disrepair. Tajikistan, for instance, lost many of its stations—along with the scientists who staffed them—during its bloody 1992–97 civil war. But the outlook is improving, thanks to a new commitment to regional glacier research led by the Beijing-based Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences. In collaboration with counterparts in neighboring central Asian countries, it is helping to fund new state-of-the-art research stations in Tajikistan, Nepal, and Pakistan and erecting its own high-elevation glacier stations in Tibet. The aim, Director Yao Tandong says, is to "record the full picture of environmental change around the glaciers."

  • * Christina Larson is a writer in Beijing.