Pamir
© Achille Jouberton

From ice to microorganisms and humans: Toward an interdisciplinary understanding of climate change impacts on the Third Pole

About Us

Toward an interdisciplinary understanding of climate change impacts on the Third Pole

Climate-induced changes are dramatic in the high mountains of Asia, but we understand them much less than those in the Arctic or Antarctic. This is despite the importance of these mountains for water supply for societal and environmental use. Supplying water to an otherwise arid region, the Pamir is one of the most important mountain water towers globally. However, the status of the cryosphere in the Pamir region is particularly uncertain due to the lack of measurements since the collapse of the Soviet Union and due to the unique diversity of icy landforms it contains, leading to complex streamflow regimes and geohazards.

The SPI Flagship Programme PAMIR is an interdisciplinary undertaking to characterize the current state of the Pamir cryosphere to an unprecedented degree, as well as its impacts on ecosystems, hazards and water resources. We will: i) extract an ice core to unlock a climate archive of the past millennium; ii) assess the distribution and state of permafrost; iii) measure the mass balance and accumulation of glaciers at a regional level; iv) establish the link between microbial adaptation and a rapidly changing cryosphere; v) disentangle regional cryospheric hazards by understanding glaciological and permafrost drivers; and finally: vi) unravel the lost history of Pamir cryospheric research. Together, these ambitious scientific objectives will generate important historic and contemporary understanding of this key headwater region, enabling a better understanding of the future of this water tower.

Research Cluster

Our efforts are organized around these 6 clusters:
man-in-water-web
© Eric Pohl
© Achille Jouberton
© Eric Pohl
© Evan Miles
© Evan Miles
© Achille Jouberton
mountain-with-grass-and-snow
© Martina Schön
glacier-pamir-mountain
© Martina Schön
© Evan Miles
© Evan Miles
glacier-pamir
© Matthieu Tordeur
man-putting-hand-in-water
© Eric Pohl
man-taking-water
© Eric Pohl
© Achille Jouberton
© Achille Jouberton
© Achille Jouberton
© Achille Jouberton
© Evan Miles
© Evan Miles
About Pamir
© Evan Miles

About Pamir

Among the most iconic mountain ranges of the Third Pole are the Pamir Mountains, a keystone connecting the Central Asian (e.g. Tien Shan) and Himalayan mountain chains (e.g. Karakoram, Kunlun and Hindu Kush). The Pamir Mountains supply water to an arid region stretching to the Aral Sea, and buffer seasonal water shortage with snow, glacier and permafrost thaw.

About Pamir

News About Pamir

See All News
PAMIR Annual Meeting
14. November, 2022

PAMIR Annual Meeting

The first annual assembly of PAMIR has taken place on 11 November 2022 in Zurich. In-person and online, highlights of this year’s field season were presented and various topics were discussed…

LEARN MORE
LET’S TALK: POLAR RESEARCH AND OUR STRUGGLING PLANET
27. October, 2022

LET’S TALK: POLAR RESEARCH AND OUR STRUGGLING PLANET

Great interview with the co-PI of PAMIR, Francesca Pellicciotti and the PI of the second SPI Flagship Initiative GreenFjord, Julia Schmale, on Swissinfo.ch: https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/let-s-talk–polar-research-and-our-struggling-planet/48004934

LEARN MORE
Second visit to Kyzylsu
14. October, 2022

Second visit to Kyzylsu

Members of research cluster 3, ‘Glaciers, Snow and Hydrology’, successfully completed their second visit to Kyzylsu since PAMIR started. This time, the joint Tajik-Swiss expedition team also included several artists, working on innovative…

LEARN MORE