GLOFCA – Reducing Vulnerabilities of Populations in the Central Asia Region from Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) in a Changing Climate, Report-Part1, University of Zurich

This report provides a synopsis of the work undertaken by the University of Zurich (UZH) in our role as the lead implementing partner to the GLOFCA project. The report covers the period from October 2022 until the end of April 2023 and is an update of previous reports. The key achievement of this reporting period include:

  • Completion of the second regional exchange workshop on GLOF hazard assessment.
  • Preliminary hazard assessment results for the pilot sites from numerical modelling. ● Completion of a series of webinars on EWS with regional and international experts.
  • Drafting of a methodological framework for GLOF hazard and risk assessment (UZH input to chapter 2 of the best practice guidance document.
  • Exchange visits from partners from Kazakhstan (and preparation of visit from Kyrgyzstan).
  • Procurement of services for consulting and back-stopping for technical issues of the EWS.
  • Completion of the analytical lake mapping toolbox and lake atlas.
  • Contributions to regional events, including summer schools and capacity building activities.
  • Contributions to international conferences



Field visits in Ala Archa, Kyrgyzstan

In the end of August 2022, a four days joint field visit was conducted to the various lakes close to the Adygene research station in the valley of Adygene, a western tributary to the Ala Archa river and valley. A team of scientists from the Kyrgyz Academy of Science’s Institute of Water Problems and Hydroenergy, the Swiss University of Zurich and visiting female students from various Kyrgyz universities spent three nights at Adygene research station. The team conducted bathymetrical surveys for the upper and lower Adygene lakes.


GLOFCA is present in ‘Adventure of Science: Women and Glaciers in Central Asia’

GLOFCA member Laura Niggli joined this year’s ‘Adventure of Science: Women and Glaciers in Central Asia’ ( expedition as visiting scientific instructor with expertise on Glacier Lake Outburst Floods.

The project ‘Adventure of Science’ empowers young women through science, art and wilderness exploration.

This year’s successful expedition took place from 16.-25. August 2022 in the adventurous Ala Archa National Park in Kyrgyzstan where the young women made their first steps in and around Golubin glacier located in the beautiful high mountain regions the Kyrgyz range.

The female led team trained the participants in scientific methods and supports them in the development and presentation of their own scientific projects. The participants learnt about climate and environmental changes as well as natural hazards and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in high mountain regions.

Besides the focus on thematic capacity building, the program is designed to encourage critical thinking, curiosity, and expression with the goal to empower a new generation of strong, aware and educated female explorers, scientists and leaders.


Modelling Workshop with Project Partners and Zurich University in May and July 2022

The University of Zurich (UZH), in its role as lead implementing partner to the Executing Entity of UNESCO within the GLOFCA Project, organizes a technical training addressed to experts in the field of natural hazards management for the numerical modelling of rapid mass movements and glacier lake outburst floods in particular.A detailed prediction of the height, the velocity and the impact pressure of mass movements are the basis for natural hazard assessment.The software RAMMS was specially designed to provide practitioners with a tool that can be applied to analyze problems that cannot be solved with one-dimensional models.RAMMS is a reliable numerical simulation tool yielding runout distance, flow heights, flow velocities and impact pressure of dense flow snow avalanches, hillslope landslides, glacier lake outburst floods (GLOFs) and debris httpss://

The course is divided in two introductory webinars and a face-to-face workshop, which will be held in Almaty. 

On the 16th of Mai 2022, the first webinar took place.The four panelist, Prof. Christian Huggel, Dr. Perry Bartelt, Dr. Holger Frey and Dr. Alessandro Cicoira introduced general topics from disaster risk reduction and numerical modelling of rapid mass movements. 
Examples from different continents and different types of mass movements were covered, including snow avalanches, rockfalls, and GLOFs.

A large audience of almost 50 experts from the four Republic in Central Asia participated to the training.

On the 1st of June, the second webinar took place.The participants heard about the challanges and the assumptions used in the model from Dr. Brian McArdel.Also, two examples of mass movements from the Swiss Alps were examined in detail to illustrate the functionality and the potential of the model.The participants had the chance to get training on how to deal with highly relevant objects and obstacles such as houses, but also with low friction areas, such as roads.

Thanks to all the organizers from the UNESCO Almaty, the University of Zurich, the WSL-SLF institute, the translators, and all the interested participants, the two events were a success.These two webinars pave the road for the upcoming workshop that will be held in Almaty from the 27th to the 30th of June.There, the participants will have the opportunity to work with international experts on GLOFs modelling, follow hands-on exercises, and autonomously develop their own study cases. 

​​​​On the last week of July 2022, 23 participants from the four Central Asia Republics participated in a training on numerical modelling of Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOF). 

The event was organized by the University of Zurich (Alessandro Cicoira), the Snow and Avalanche Research Centre SLF in Davos (Perry Barlet, Jessica Munch, Olga Gorynina) and the UNESCO office in Almaty (Natalia Kim and Gulnaz Abdaliyeva), with additional help of the State Institute Kazselezashita under Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Murat Kassenov).

The participants were accurately selected amongst national authorities, research centers and universities, where professional personnel is currently working for mitigating GLOF risk.

The participants had the opportunity to learn how to use the software RAMMS. During the first day, several lectures about flow dynamics, GLOF breaching and open access data provided the basis for the rest of the training. All the participants learnt how to simulate rapid mass movements. Despite some theory being indispensable, the workshop room got warmer up quickly due to the heat generated by the computers. By the morning of the second day, everybody knew how to obtain its own data and independently run a numerical simulation.

The second day of the training an interesting field visit led by Mr Murat Kassenov brought the participants to the catchment of Talgar. There, the experts from the State Institute Kazselezashita and from the University of Zurich discussed mitigation measures, GLOF dynamics and numerical modelling keeping in mind the potential and the limitations of the software used in the course. 

The following two days were very busy, with the participants working briskly in order to obtain the maximum out of this block course. Many simulations have been performed, including the four pilot sites of the GLOFCA Project. The participants also simulated successfully with the help of the teachers some other case studies relevant for their work. 

During the last day of the training, in a conference fashion, each country presented their own study cases, the success and the problems that they encountered during the course. Finally, official learning certificates were endorsed to the participants, who will continue to work with the software in their professional and academic life. The institutions participating to the course are now equipped with 4 years licenses and ongoing support for their work. 

The course served at providing the fundamental basis for numerical simulations of GLOFS, but it also worked as a very effective international networking platform, both on a professional and personal level. Many collaborations have been discussed already and more will likely follow, in the best interest of capacity building, development and cooperation.

В последнюю неделю июля 2022 года 23 участника из четырех республик Центральной Азии приняли участие в тренинге по численному моделированию паводков от прорыва ледниковых озер (ППЛО). 

Мероприятие было организовано Цюрихским университетом (Алессандро Чикойра), Центром исследований снега и лавин SLF в Давосе (Перри Барлет, Джессика Мунк, Ольга Горынина) и Кластерным бюро ЮНЕСКО в Алматы (Наталья Ким и Гульназ Абдалиева) при дополнительной помощи Государственного учреждения “Казселезащита” при Министерстве Чрезвычайных ситуаций Республики Казахстан.

Участники были тщательно отобраны среди национальных органов власти, исследовательских центров и университетов, где в настоящее время работают профессиональные кадры по снижению риска ППЛО.

Участники имели возможность научиться пользоваться программным обеспечением RAMMS. В течение первого дня лекции о динамике потока, ППЛО и данных открытого доступа послужили основой для остальной части тренинга. Все участники научились моделировать быстрые движения масс. Несмотря на то, что без теории было не обойтись, помещение семинара быстро нагревалось из-за тепла, выделяемого компьютерами. К утру второго дня все знали, как получить собственные данные и самостоятельно запустить численное моделирование.

На второй день тренинга состоялся интересный полевой выезд участников на водосборный бассейн Талгара под руководством г-на Мурата Касенова. Там эксперты из Государственного учреждения “Казселезащита” и Цюрихского университета обсудили меры по смягчению последствий, динамику ППЛО и численное моделирование, учитывая потенциал и ограничения программного обеспечения, используемого в курсе. 

Последующие два дня были очень насыщенными, участники работали в напряженном режиме, чтобы получить максимум от этого курса. Было проведено много симуляций, включая четыре пилотных территории проекта GLOFCA. Участники также успешно смоделировали с помощью преподавателей некоторые другие тематические исследования, имеющие отношение к их работе. 

В последний день тренинга, который прошел в форме конференции, каждая страна представила свои учебные примеры, успехи и проблемы, с которыми они столкнулись во время курса. Наконец, были вручены официальные сертификаты об обучении участникам, которые будут продолжать работать с программным обеспечением в своей профессиональной и академической жизни. Учреждения, участвовавшие в курсе, теперь обеспечены лицензиями на 4 года и постоянной поддержкой их работы. 

Курс послужил фундаментальной основой для численного моделирования ППЛО, а также стал очень эффективной платформой для налаживания международных связей, как на профессиональном, так и на межличностном уровне. Уже обсуждались многие вопросы сотрудничества, и, скорее всего, их станет еще больше, в интересах наращивания потенциала, развития и сотрудничества.



Findings of the 2022 IPCC Report with focus on Central Asia

Interview by Alfred Diebold with Prof. Christian Huggel of Zurich University and GLOFCA team member


GLOFCA Project presented at Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

On the 7th of April 2022 the GLOFCA Project was presented at the Regional Forum on sustainable development for the UNECE Region, where partnerships to address climate change, extreme events and disaster risk reduction towards sustainable development goals have been discussed.


The event was organized by the Regional Office for Europe of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Distaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia. Contributors came from UNICEF, UNDP, UNECE, UNESCO and other members of the Task Team on Climate Change and DRR of the Issue Based Coalition on Environment and Climate.

Amongst the five panelist, Alessandro Cicoira, a scientist from the University of Zurich, discussed the GLOFCA project and its philosophy. During his presentation, he addressed the strategy to reduce the vulnerabilities of communities affected by Glacier Lake Outburst Floods. Special attention was payed to the regional scale of the Project and to the integrated approach in the design of Early Warning Systems. An important discussion point has also been the financial and operational sustainability of the mitigation measures developed under the project. With this regard, capacity building and knowledge transfer have been highlighted as some of the fundamental components of GLOFCA.

Other panelists presented their experience related to resilience journey for cities (httpss://, the  National Platform of the Kyrgyz Republic for Disaster Risk Reduction, the joint expert group on water and industrial accidents (httpss://, and finally the Strategic Partnership for the South-East European Multi-Hazard Early Warning Advisory Syste.
The event has been concluded by a vivid discussion with many questions and suggestions for further partnerships and cooperation. Cyrille Honoré, in his role of moderator, summarized the event by stressing that you cannot simply declare cooperation. This needs time, energy and commitment. It is important that science advances are translated in practical results and sustained over time by policies and governance. He reminded that the secretary general just called for a wide effort to ensure that EWS are always more applied to protect vulnerable communities on our planet. With this important message, we concluded the event proud to contribute to a common effort.


New Director of the Central Asian Regional Glaciological Centre category 2 under the auspices of UNESCO

From left to right: Takir Balykbayev, Zhanna Kurmangaliyeva, Igor Severskiy, and Akhmetkal Medeu 

UNESCO Almaty Office would like to congratulate Mr. Takir Balykbayev to his appointment as the Director of the LLP “Central Asian Regional Glaciological Centre category 2 under the auspices of UNESCO”. We look forward to further strengthen our cooperation specially in the context of the regional project funded by the Adaptation Fund and implemented by the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office with the name “Reducing vulnerabilities of populations in Central Asia region from glacier lake outburst floods in a changing climate” (GLOFCA). 


UNESCO-Kazselezaschita cooperation launched

Press release:

Wednesday, 2 March 2022 – The UNESCO Almaty Office and the Kazakh State Institution “Kazselezaschita” are joining forces in a project named “Reducing vulnerabilities of populations in Central Asia region from glacier lake outburst floods in a changing climate” (GLOFCA), funded by the Adaptation Fund. As part of the GLOFCA’s YEAR-1 activities, Kazselezaschita is contributing to a country synthesis report on current state of knowledge on GLOF hazard and risk as well as providing a comprehensive review of Glacier Lake Outburst Floods (GLOFs) and glacial mudflow mitigation and prevention methods over past 50 years in Kazakhstan. The outcomes will serve as an important basis for a regional best-practice guidance document for lake mapping and monitoring being developed under GLOFCA by the project partner University of Zurich jointly with national experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Пресс-релиз: ЮНЕСКО и Казселезащита запускают сотрудничество

Алматы, Казахстан

Среда, 2 марта 2022 – Бюро ЮНЕСКО в Алматы и Государственное учреждение (ГУ) «Казселезащита» объединяют усилия для реализации проекта «Снижение уязвимости населения в Центрально-Азиатском регионе от прорыва ледниковых озер в условиях изменения климата» (GLOFCA), финансируемого Адаптационным фондом. В рамках мероприятий, предусмотренных на первый год реализации проекта, эксперты ГУ «Казселезащита» примут участие в составлении сводного доклада о текущем состоянии знаний об опасности и рисках, связанных с прорывоопасными ледниковыми озерами, а также обобщат методы смягчения и предотвращения последствий прорыва ледниковых озер и гляциальных селей, применяемые в Казахстане за последние 50 лет. Данная информация послужит основой для разработки регионального руководства по наилучшей практике в области картирования и мониторинга ледниковых озер, разрабатываемого партнером проекта Университетом Цюриха совместно с национальными экспертами из Казахстана, Кыргызстана, Таджикистана и Узбекистана.


The Silk Road of Knowledge: Science Meets Green Policy Conference

From February 23-35, 2022 an international online conference organized by the Kazakh-German University within the framework of the Green Central Asia Initiative. The main objective of the conference was to provide innovative solutions to the five Central Asian economies (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) by:

  • Presenting and discussion policy proposals on innovative science-based solutions for the economic and political development of Central Asia in order to mitigate the impact of climate change;
  • Informing on decision-making processes based on scientific research in the field of integrated water and land resources management, food security, infrastructure development, water, and climate security, and energy efficiency practices in Central Asia;
  • Presenting innovation for development;
  • Involving youth in scientific research and decision-making processes

The online conference covered a wide range of issues and was divided into pre-sessions, panel discussions, and thematic sessions each discussing the impact of climate change on the Central Asian countries and presenting proposals including necessary adaptation measures. Mr. Bakhtibek Otambekzoda represented the “Reducing the vulnerabilities of populations in the Central Asia region from glacier lake outburst floods in a changing climate” (GLOFCA) project as a national coordinator for Tajikistan during one of the sessions named “Climate Security: Disaster Risk Reduction and Adaptation” as a discussant and shared his views and recommendations on the presented policy-brief as well as briefly informing the participants about the GLOFCA project aims and components. 


IPCC Report is out

The report published on February 28, 2022 is looking at ecosystems, biodiversity, and human communities at global and regional levels. It also reviews vulnerabilities and the capacities and limits of the natural world and human societies to adapt to climate change.

We are in the middle of a men made crises!


Press statement by the the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres