Department of Classics and Archaeology

Georgia historical ice core project (Caucasus)

A Global Challenges Research Project


Project summary

This project aimed to build capacity for ice-core-related climate-change research in Georgia. 

Picture of a snow capped mountain against a bright blue sky.
Mount Kazbegi, Georgian Caucasus mountains (Summer 2021) © Lela Gadrani, (CCI, University of Maine).

The specific objective was to extract an historical ice record from the Kazbegi plateau in the Georgian Caucasus region to capture a rapidly diminishing archive of the climate and human cultural history of central Eurasia, addressing United Nations SDG 13 on Climate action, and enabling the first Georgian-led ice-core research on the Kazbegi glaciers.

It was made possible by a partnership between the University of Nottingham, UK; Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia; and the Climate Change Institute (CCI), University of Maine, USA. 

Project impact

The research enabled an evaluation of the impact of recent global warming on the Kazbegi ice records. Preliminary assessment of the ice is currently under way to establish its potential for future ultra-high-resolution, laser-based (LA-ICP-MS) glacio-chemical analysis to research historic climate change.

Project partnerships

This project successfully established an ongoing research collaboration with Professor Mikheil Elashvili and his Cultural Heritage and Environment Research Centre at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. Research England GCRF funding from the University of Nottingham supported the fieldwork costs of the project, and the Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, provided technical equipment and funded a PhD studentship to help grow capacity for ice-core-based climate research in Georgia.

A snow-sampling campaign also further raised academic and public awareness in Georgia of the importance of its ice archives, alongside the making of a Television documentary on the fieldwork undertaken in summer 2021.

Project team

Prof. Chris Loveluck (University of Nottingham)

Prof. Mikheil Elashvili (Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia)

Prof. Andrei Kurbatov (Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, USA)

Project duration

2020 - ongoing 

A group of warmly dressed people walking across a snowy landscape, attached to each other by ropes.
Ice-core extraction team approaching drill site.
Group of people and tents pitched in the middle of a large expanse of snow.
Drill Site Base camp.
Two people in thick coats working surrounded by equipment on a snowy landscape.
Processing of ice-core sections.
A white box filled with samples in front of a kneeling person whose torso and legs are visible in the photographs.
Storage in ice-core box ‘mini-freezers’.
Red helicopter landing on a snowy landscape with a mountain in the background.
Transport of ice-core boxes off the Kazbegi glacier by helicopter, for transfer to pack-horse.
A row of heavily laden horses walking across a stony landscape in front of a mountain.
Ice-core boxes travelling by pack-horse to the Stepansminda research base.

All images used on this page were kindly provided by Lela Gadrani (Climate Change Institute, University of Maine). Further use is prohibited without prior permission. 





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