The Fedchenko Glacier (Russian Федченко) is a large glacier in the Pamir Mountains of north-central Gorno-Badakhshan province, Tajikistan. The glacier is long and narrow, currently extending for 77 kilometres (48 mi) and covering over 700 square kilometres (270 sq mi). It is the longest glacier in the world outside of the polar regions. The maximum thickness of the glacier is 1,000 metres (3,300 ft), and the volume of the Fedchenko and its dozens of tributaries is estimated at 144 cubic kilometres (35 cu mi)—about a third the volume of Lake Erie.
Path and location
The glacier follows a generally northward path to the east of the 6,595 m (21,637 ft) Garmo Peak. The glacier begins at an elevation of 6,200 metres (20,300 ft) above sea level, and eventually melts and empties into the Balandkiik River near the border with Kyrgyzstan at an elevation of 2,909 metres (9,544 ft). Its waters eventually feed down the Muksu, Surkhob, Vakhsh, and Amu Darya rivers into the Aral Sea.
To the west is the Academy of Sciences Range, Mount Garmo, Ismoil Somoni Peak, Peak Korzhenevskaya and the headwaters of the Vanj River and Yazgulyam River. To the south is Independence Peak and to the east Gorbunov Peak (6,025 meters). To the north is Altyn Mazar.
The glacier was discovered in 1878 but not fully explored until 1928 by a German-Soviet expedition under Willi Rickmer Rickmers. It is named after Alexei Pavlovich Fedchenko, a Russian explorer (but not discoverer of the glacier). In 1910-1913 the glacier expanded and moved forward by 800-1000 m, blocking up the Balyandlik River the following year. It continued to recede between 1928-1960, stopping its inflows such as the Kosinenko, Ulugbeck, Alert and several others.
Concerns about shrinking
The Tajik government has recently expressed concerns that the Fedchenko and other Pamir glaciers have been shrinking due to global warming, and that continuing temperature increases could endanger that nation's water supply and extensive hydroelectric power infrastructure, both of which are driven almost entirely by glacier melt.
- In the Karakoram Mountains, the Siachen Glacier is 76 km long, the Biafo Glacier is 67 km long, and the Baltoro is 63 km long. The Bruggen or Pio XI Glacier in southern Chile is 66 km long. Kyrgyzstan's South Inylchek (Enylchek) Glacier is 60.5 km in length. Measurements are from recent imagery, generally with Russian 1:200,000 scale topographic mapping for reference as well as the 1990 Orographic Sketch Map: Karakoram: Sheets 1 and 2, Swiss Foundation for Alpine Research, Zurich.
- "Field research of glaciers and glacial lakes located in Karatag, Vakhsh and Zeravshan river basin.". Meteo. Retrieved 13 May 2012.
- "Fedchenko Glacier". Encyclopædia Britannica online edition. Retrieved 8 December 2005.
- "The First National Communication of the Republic of Tajikistan under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Repeblic of Tajikistan Ministry for Nature Protection. Dushanbe: 2002.
- "Tajikistan 2002: Vital Maps and Graphics on Climate Change". Tajikistan Met Service. Retrieved 18 August 2005.
- "Tajikistan - Topography and Drainage". U.S. Department of the Army. Published by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress. Online version retrieved 8 December 2005.
- Map of glaciation in the Pamir Mountains
- Google Maps satellite photo of Fedchenco Glacier (solid white line running approximately vertically in center of image)
- Current weather and 5-day forecast, from CNN