Since the Little Ice Age, most glaciers in the Tien Shan mountains have been retreating. Owing to an increase in precipitation in most parts of the mountains during the late 1950s to early 1970s, the percentage of receding glaciers and the speed of retreat have tended to decrease in the 1970s. However, the general trend of continuous glacier retreat remains unchanged, in part because the summer air temperature shows no tendency to decrease.
In the Tien Shan mountains, as the degree of climatic continentality increases the mass balance becomes more dependent on summer temperature, and accumulation and ablation tend to be lower. Therefore, the responses of glaciers to climatic fluctuations in more continental areas are not synchronous with those in less continental areas, and the amplitude of the glacier variations becomes smaller.