Faculty of geography
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Elbrus teaching and research station

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The station was organized in 1957 by Professor G.K.Tushinsky (1909-1979) who was its scientific supervisor till 1979. The choice of its location in the Terskol settlement (Kabardino-Balkaria) was predetermined by the tasks of the International Geophysical Year (1957-1959). The station was the base for geographical and glaciological investigations according to the IGY Program, which were carried out by the students, post-graduates and specialists of the Moscow State University. In 1969 a new complex of living and teaching facilities was constructed at the Azau site to support field training of geography students and the year-round studies of glaciers, snow cover, avalanches, mudflows and mountain landscapes. In 1969-1986 the Elbrus station was a part of the Research Laboratory of Snow Avalanches and Mudflows operating as the experimental glaciological center and methodological center of glacier, avalanche and mudflow studies.

Teaching activities — field training and practical work for the students of the following departments: Cryolithology and Glaciology, Cartography and Geoinformatics, Physical Geography and Landscape Science, Physical Geography of the World and Geoecology, Landscape Geochemistry and Soil Geography, Geomorphology and Palaeogeography, Economic and Social Geography of Russia, Geography of World Economy and International Tourism, etc.

Research activities — stationary observations of snow cover, glaciers, avalanches and mudflows, studying the evolution of Elbrus glaciation, mapping avalanche and mudflow risks for the high mountain territories, dynamics of snow cover and avalanche activity for the Great Caucasus on the basis of meteorological data, assessment of recreational resources of nival and glacial zone, possible solutions of the ecological problems in high mountain areas.

Accomplished research. Changes in the state of Elbrus glaciation for the period from 1887 till 1987 were fixed, glaciogeo morphological mapping was carried out on the basis of repeated photogrammetric surveys, maps for the Atlas of Elbrus and the Atlas of Snow and Glacier Resources of the World were compiled. Methods of assessment and mapping the avalanche and mudflow risks were suggested, the maps for mountain areas of the Great and Central Caucasus were compiled, the correlation between the avalanche intensity and the amount of snow was identified, the transformation of snow properties was studied and the results were used to improve the avalanche forecasting. In 1965-1974 the budget of the Dzhan Kuat representative glacier basin was studied, the balance observation data are transmitted to the International Service of Glacier Monitoring, the data on snow cover and avalanches and numerous maps were prepared for the local GIS «An avalanche». The ecological situation in the upper reaches of the Baksan river valley was evaluated, a series of maps for the Atlas of the Natural National Park Prielbrusie was compiled.

Future research activities — spatial and temporal changes and regime of nival-glacial systems of the high mountains as an indicator of the trends of environmental changes due to natural and anthropogenic factors, glacier response to climate changes, glacier oscillations and moraine formation in the Baksan river valley of the Central Caucasus during the Holocene, interactions between the glaciation and volcanic activity of Elbrus, methods of long-term forecasting of the avalanche intensity on the basis of standard meteorological data and data on snow amounts, geoinformation systems of different levels and orientation, application of glaciological information for the assessment of recreational resources in the high mountain areas, ecological problems of nival-glacial zone and possible ways of their solution, methods of field training in high mountain areas, elaboration of practical guides for special field training in high mountain areas.

Scientific contacts — with the institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences, with institutions of the Ministry of Emergencies and the State Committee for Hydrometeorology, with universities of Russia and neighboring states, with educational institutions of Kabardino-Balkaria.

International contacts — organization of international symposia «Alps-Caucasus» and «Ecology of High Mountains" of the XXIII International Geographical Congress, as well as the post-Congress tour «Northern Caucasus», the IV Glaciological Symposium, interdepartmental meetings on snow avalanches and climate oscillations during last millennium, the International conference «Recreation in the Elbrus region», participation in field glaciological studies in the Alps (1992-1997), in scientific conferences and meetings, collaboration with Berlin and Munich universities (Germany).

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