• permafrost;
  • active layer;
  • climate change;
  • Central Asia;
  • plateau;
  • mountains


Permafrost in Central Asian is present in the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau in China, the Tien Shan Mountain regions in China, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, the Pamirs in Tajikistan, and in Mongolia. Monitoring of the ground thermal regime in these regions over the past several decades has shown that the permafrost has been undergoing significant changes caused by climate warming and increasing human activities. During the International Polar Year, measured mean annual ground temperature (MAGT) at a depth of 6 m ranged from −3.2°C to 0.2°C on the Qinghai–Tibet Plateau and the active-layer thickness (ALT) varied between 105 and 322 cm at different sites. Ground temperatures at the bottom of the active layer (TTOP) warmed on average by 0.06°C yr−1 over the past decade. In Mongolia, MAGT at 10–15 m depth increased by up to 0.02–0.03°C yr−1 in the Hovsgol Mountain region, but by 0.01–0.02°C yr−1 in the Hangai and Hentei Mountain regions. The increase in permafrost temperatures in the northern Tien Shan from 1974 to 2009 ranged from 0.3°C to 0.6°C. At present measured permafrost temperatures vary from −0.5°C to −0.1°C. The ALT increased from 3.2 to 4 m in the 1970s to a maximum of 5.2 m between 1995 and 2009. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.