DIOGENES - Dust Impacts on Glaciated Environments

See the Russian-language webpage for the DIOGENES project

Researchers in the CaucasusDIOGENES (Dust Impacts on Glaciated Environments) is an interdisciplinary project addressing impacts of mineral aerosol (dust) on glaciers and bringing together two major issues in climate change research: glacier shrinkage and impacts of mineral aerosol on climate system.

Glacier wastage is observed worldwide in response to the observed climatic warming. Our previous projects confirmed rapid glacier retreat in many different regions of Eurasia including the Caucasus Mountains, Siberia, Tien-Shan, Polar Urals, and Novaya Zemlya. In addition to rising air temperatures, the state of glacier surface affects glacier melt rates due to the presence of debris cover, black carbon and dust.

Snow pit wall with dust layers shown against the electric conductivity and Ca (ICP-MS) measurementsDust deposited on glaciers originates from different sources including long-travelled desert dust, locally-produced mineral dust and products of decay of biogenic material. Mineral dust changes reflectance of glacier surface, affecting energy balance and melt rates of glaciers and seasonal snow and subsequently runoff. In addition, long-travelled desert dust affects geochemical cycles of high-altitude environments through the supply of iron and other nutrients to the aquatic systems nourished by snow and glacier runoff.

Read more about Climate change and glacier dynamics in the Caucasus and the mountains of Southern Siberia
Download the 'Interpreting ice core proxies' poster (PDF 2.4MB)

Research Location

Researchers in the CaucasusThe project is set in the Caucasus Mountains, Russia. The Caucasus Mountains stretch between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and are home to Europe's highest peak - Mount Elbrus (5642 m a.s.l.). Over 1700 glaciers supply water to the densely populated regions maintaining large-scale agricultural production. Like mountain glaciers across the world, the Caucasus glaciers are shrinking in response to climatic warming.

It is very likely that emissions of local dust and its deposition on glacier surface are increasing with glacier retreat. Due to its elevation, proximity to the deserts of the Middle East and location on the track of Saharan depressions, the Caucasus is a perfect long-travelled dust trap.


The project’s objectives are grouped into three sets:

The first set deals with characterisation of dust deposited on glaciers and its radiative properties. We aim to provide detailed characterisation of dust including elemental composition and particle size distribution, and quantify sensitivity of glacier melt to dust deposition discriminating between locally-produced and long-travelled dust.

The second set deals with long-travelled desert dust. We aim to establish a record of long-travelled dust deposition events using samples collected from the shallow ice cores which we extract on Mt. Elbrus, above 5000 m a.s.l. Trends and key meteorological controls over long-travelled dust deposition are quantified and dust provenance is determined with a very high temporal (c. hours) and spatial (c. 100 km) resolution.

The third set deals with representation of long-travelled dust deposition in HiGAM atmospheric general circulation model (GCM) and its validation.


EU FP7 emblemEuropean Union emblemThe research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union Seventh Framework Programme FP7-PEOPLE-2010-IIF under grant agreement n° PIIF-GA-2010-275071.

The project has also received funding from the Royal Society.

The team

At Reading

We work in close collaboration with the Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Science (IGRAS)

  • Dr Vladimir Mikhalenko
  • Dr Gennady Nosenko and
  • Dr Ivan Lavrentiev


S. Kutuzov, Shahgedanova, M., Mikhalenko, V., Ginot, P., Lavrentiev, I., and Kemp, S.: , Desert Dust Deposition on Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus Mountains, Russia in 2009-2012 as recorded in snow and shallow ice core: High-resolution 'Provenancing, Transport Patterns, Physical Properties and Soluble Ionic CompositionThe Cryosphere; Special Issue: International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS): 2012 First Open Science Conference (CP/TC Inter-Journal SI, doi:10.5194/tc-7-1481-2013). View on-line: http://www.the-cryosphere.net/7/1481/2013/tc-7-1481-2013.html

Shahgedanova, M., Kutuzov, S., White, K. H., and Nosenko, G.: Using the significant dust deposition event on the glaciers of Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus Mountains, Russia on 5 May 2009 to develop a method for dating and "provenancing" of desert dust events recorded in snow pack. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 13, 1797-1808, doi:10.5194/acp-13-1797-2013, 2013. View on-line: http://www.atmos-chem-phys.net/13/1797/2013/

Kutuzov, S., Shahgedanova, M., Mikhalenko, V., Lavrentiev, I., and Kemp, S.: Desert dust deposition on Mt. Elbrus, Caucasus Mountains, Russia in 2009–2012 as recorded in snow and shallow ice core: high-resolution "provenancing", transport patterns, physical properties and soluble ionic composition. The Cryosphere Discuss., 7, 1621-1672, doi:10.5194/tcd-7-1621-2013, 2013. View online: http://www.the-cryosphere-discuss.net/7/1621/2013/tcd-7-1621-2013.pdf

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