• environmental changes;
  • high elevation

The northern Eurasia high mountains, particularly in dry regions of Central Asia, are critically important because they are the source of the water supply for the densely populated lowlands. These regions are highly vulnerable to climatic and environmental changes. Global warming, current and future expected retreat of seasonal snow cover and glaciers, and changes in precipitation pattern and type significantly affect river runoff, permafrost, and groundwater. Moreover, the majority of mountain regions in northern Eurasia are characterized by growing anthropogenic pressure that causes harmful feedback, including desertification of lowlands; wind erosion; contamination of the atmosphere, surface waters, and groundwaters; reduction in crop yield; and increasing human mortality rates.