on September 20, a hanging glacier collapsed onto the Kolka Glacier, triggering an avalanche of ice and debris. The avalanche buried small villages in the Russian Republic of North Ossetia, killing dozens of people. The source of the avalanche can be seen at lower left, at the starting point of a long line of grayish avalanche debris standing out against the bright snow and ice.
This photograph of Mt. Kazbek was taken from the International Space Station on August 13, 2002. The astronauts and cosmonauts took the photograph at the request of the Russian URAGAN Project, which is studying changes in the world’s glaciers in response to global climate change. Although scientists have predicted the possibility of large glacial collapses as the climate warms, no one predicted that tragedy would strike the mountain village of Karmadon, a little more than a month later.