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'Numer of endemic species in lake Baikal is 1,455'
Marc Di Duca

Global warming could happen quicker in Russia's coldest region

By Anna Liesowska
24 February 2015

Renowned scientist says temperatures could 'rise twice faster' in Yakutia than the rest of the world.

Professor Oleg Anisimov, from the State Hydrological Institute in St Petersburg. Picture: Gazeta Yakutia

Temperatures are rising twice the global rate in Russia’s coldest region because of warming, and this is likely to continue in the future, says a leading scientist.

Delivering a lecture in Yakutsk, Professor Oleg Anisimov, from the State Hydrological Institute in St Petersburg said: 'The UN group of climate experts anticipate global temperature increase from two to four degrees Celsius by the end of the century.'

For Yakutia - also known as the Sakha Republic - climate models predict up to 8 degrees Celsius temperature rise.

'That is, warming here is two times faster, than globally. This is because of the so-called Arctic amplification. There is a reduction in snow and ice cover, which reflect much of the coming sunlight. With less snow and ice, the Arctic gets additional warmth.'

Arctic shores erosion


Arctic shores erosion

The map showing the pace of erosion along the Arctic coast line (top). Map showing the processes of destruction of East Siberian coastline (bottom). Pictures: Hugues Lantuit/AlfredWegenerInstitut, Mikhail Grigoriev/Permafrost institute

'Satellites have been tracing sea ice changes since 1978. In September 2012 sea ice reached its absolute minimum of 3.2 million square kilometres, which is more than twice lower than the 1979-2000 average of 7.0 million square kilometres.

He added: 'Therefore, by the middle of the century it may be that the Arctic Ocean will be completely ice free.'

Prof Anisimov is in the region delivering a series of lectures about global warming and its impact on the northern territories of Russia.

In 2007, as expert of an Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for research on its impact, and is considered one of the world’s most eminent authorities on the subject.

He said that while an increase in the temperature will make winters in Siberia more comfortable, and lead to lower energy costs, it could be detrimental to the environment and human health.

'We will have to pay with potential problems in forestry, wildlife, and new diseases, warned Prof Anisimov. 'Insects and parasites may increase their ranges, and winter thaw may lead to the formation of a solid ice crust on the snow, making it hard for animals to access food.

'Horses, deer, and other wild animals would not be able to break through the crust of ice to get to food. Such problems must be considered. Any warming will also affect nature with new species appearing that are not typical for the particular region.'

Disappeared islands

A map of Yakutia, also known as the Sakha Republic, from 1884 is already radically different to one from today, with many Arctic islands having disappeared due to erosion. Picture: Mikhail Grigoriev

He continued: 'Of greater concern is the state of permafrost under the global warming. In Russia climate impacts on permafrost are particularly important.'

Two-thirds of Russia's landmass lies within a permafrost zone, and warming and thawing of the frozen ground could cause problems for infrastructure, such as roads, pipelines, and buildings in the cities.

Over the past 20 years many constructions have been damaged due to permafrost degradation.

Prof Anisimov said: 'Projected changes in the permafrost seriously threaten the Russian economy, primarily due to the increased risk of damage to the infrastructure of the Far North.'

A map of Yakutia from 1884 is already radically different to one from today, with several Arctic islands disappearing due to coastal erosion.

Prof Anisimov said that melting ice across the Arctic will improve the conditions for navigation along the Northern Sea Route, but stressed the continuing need for icebreakers and coastal infrastructure to support it.

Yakutsk


Yenisey


Permafrost destruction

The collapse of the corner of the building in the center of Yakutsk in 1999, pictured by Mikhail Grigoriev. The building of a military unit, located in the lower reaches of the Yenisei River, badly damaged by thawing of permafrost and collapsed due to the melting of permafrost section of the building in Chersky settlement pictured by Vladimir Romanovskiy/University of Alaska Fairbanks

He said: 'Thawing ice will increase the danger of ice jams in the straits through which the Northern Sea Route runs. Bear in mind that icebreakers pave the way through a solid shell of ice, but punching through a layer composed of floes frozen together could be very difficult. This factor could reduce the practical economic value of the shrinking sea ice.'

Other scientists have already speculated that global warming could be partly responsible for the series of unexplained craters appearing throughout the Yamal region. 

They believe warming air is melting thick permafrost, leading to the accumulation and release of volatile ‘fire ice’ gases which then explode to create the giant funnels.

Overall temperatures in Yamal, in northwest Siberia, in the past 14 years alone have risen by at least two degrees Celsius.

Any continued increase – as is predicted by meteorologists – could create the ideal conditions for more craters to be formed across the icy region, and other parts of Siberia.

Read more: Siberia is warming faster than anywhere in the world, warns top Russian geophysicist

Comments (5)

@north forty
"hehehe...same ol' same ol'"
Let me guess... you don't have much education?
KatuaS, Vernon, CA
01/12/2015 14:15
1
0
Trapped methane ice, warmed up, released into the air, is a better insulator than carbon dioxide. When methane ice starts to sublimate in a big way then warming will accelerate. yep. but there is probably a feedback mechanism somewhere we haven't noticed yet that will slow it down. There always is.
Drake, Seattle, United Stated
01/03/2015 22:17
3
0
If there are many little icebergs, it is true that the expensive icebreaker will not be needed, but Russia could develop and build new ships based on tugboats at a fraction of the price which could protect the oil cargo. Russia should be ready for the future desgining that kind of new tugboats to protect and separte the main commercial ships from little icebergs. An increase in temperature will be good for agriculture as there will be more lands ready to be developed for harvest, and more fresh water. Creating the conditions to make more lands available for agriculture will be possible in part of Siberia which now is just permafrost. A couple of years ago, "The Siberian Times" published an article about "drunken trees", a consequence of melting permafrost...but after melting will come the dry of different areas the same way The Netherlands have done with the Polders.Russia should learn from the experience of the Netherlands on Polders to dry land areas making them ready for farming.
Enrique, Spain
27/02/2015 04:15
1
2
global warming? hehehehe....call it mother nature changing positions. Same ole same ole that's been going on since the birth of Earth.
north forty home, mule creek, new mexico usa
26/02/2015 10:56
3
4
Alarming report
Vernon, USA
25/02/2015 08:39
4
1
1

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