Tales from the Aktru Station in Altai Mountains (Part 2)

The Aktru Research Station belongs to Tomsk State University (Siberia, Russia). It is located in the south-eastern part of the Altai Republic close to the borders with Mongolia and China in the centre of the Eurasian continent (50°06’03” N, 87°40’14’’ E). With an altitude of 2150 m a.s.l., the Station is situated in the high alpine part of the Altai Mountains. The nearest airport is Gorno-Altaisk, about 250 km northwest of the Station and the nearest village Kurai is 30km away. More detailed information is available in the INTERACT Station Catalog and can be find  here https://eu-interact.org/app/uploads/2017/10/Aktru.pdf.It’s also possible to undertake a virtual tour to get an impression of the Station facilities and natural environment https://eu-interact.org/field-sites/aktru-research-station/

The station living facilities and other infrastructures are constantly renovated. High-speed INTERNET is available for scientists and other visitors. Solar panels provide electricity in addition to the traditional  hydro-generator. Additionally to the houses, there are laboratory, a dining room and conference halls.

Photo: Sergey Kopysov, TSU

Aktru Station is multifunctional and multidisciplinary. However, currently the priority is given to glaciologal, hydrological and biodiversity research. The Station’s environment is the best place to study and monitor glaciers, particularly that of the Aktru Mountain, as that glacier is a representative of other intercontinental ones.

New devices for measuring and monitoring have been installed on glaciers and down in a valley during the two last years. The automatic weather station “Davis”, installed in 2019 down in the valley, transmits the parameters of temperature, wind speed, and rainfall to a remote server for processing and storage. The same weather station has placed in 2020 on the lateral moraine of the Left Aktru Glacier at an altitude of 2850 meters. Measuring devices to record the acoustic noise level of the water flow are installed on the main tributaries of the Aktru River. These are  automatic and are combined with automatic precipitation measures. In 2020, the new portable automatic weather station “Glacier”, which is specially developed for heat balance measurements, was placed on the Left Aktru glacier. This station also collects a whole series of meteo-data to track changes on the Left Aktru glacier. Scientists will be able to monitor how the glacier accumulates snow and ice in different periods of the year, under what conditions and how quickly it loses this mass, and how the speed of these processes is affected by solar radiation.

Photo: Alexandr Erofeev, TSU

The territory where the Aktru Station is located is really unique and hides a lot of secrets. The most recent one has been discovered by international group of scientists supported by INTERACT TA Programme in 2018. They found a new genus and species (Altainella calcarata gen. n. sp. n.) of Bathynellidae which is the first species of Bathynellidae that presents both variants of sexual dimorphism. The discovery was published by Camacho et al in Zoologica Scripta (https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/zsc.12387).

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