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

By Anna Liesowska
28 May 2014

Summer flooding will worsen dramatically, and the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2034.

'Siberia is warming faster than anywhere in the world'. Picture: Nikita Rusanov

Siberia is associated around the world with cold but it is now the capital of global warming, says distinguished Russian meteorological authority Valentin Meleshko, former head of St Petersburg-based Voyeikov Geophysical Observatory.

One impact will be even more snow in winter leading to excessive flooding in late spring and early summer, as seen last year in the devastating submerging of vast tracts of the Far East of Russia. 

'The process of warming in Siberia goes faster than elsewhere; it is not just hypothesis, there is data and observational evidence to prove it. Siberia is warming faster than any other place in the world,' Mr Meleshko told the The Siberian Times.

'In theory we can delineate the influence of anthropogenic (manmade) factors and natural changes. For the last 30 years, we have seen the significant reduction of ice cover in the Arctic and we can observe significant warming there. It reduced by about 30%'.

flooding in Amur region

flooding in Amur region 

flooding in Amur region

Devastating floods hit the Far East of Russia in August-September 2013. Pictures: DVhab.ru, Alexander Kolbin 

Forecasts show that if it continues at the same rate 'in 20-to-40 years there could be no ice in Arctic in the summer time. 

'It could totally melt by September. But it doesn't mean that there will be no ice during the year. It will re-form in winter, but it will be seasonal, like on our Siberian rivers. If we use only our observations, it is hard to give some definite conclusion, because it is not such a long period of time. 

'If we use our models, we can make a very large series of calculations. And we see the strong signal that the warming is coming. It is not just a hypothesis, we are proving this with our models.So the fact is that the ice cover in the Arctic will reduce and even disappear in summer time. 

'This huge area of the ocean surface - free from ice - will impact significantly on Siberia. And it already impacts. 

'Large areas of open water in Kara, Barents, Laptev and East-Siberian seas give conisderable warmth and water vapour. 

'It is transferred by air currents to Siberia and Far East. The humidity is also growing. Absolutely, all the forecasts on all complicated physical models show that Siberia will get more precipitation. Mostly in winter, when more snow will accumulate. 

'It will naturally melt in spring and this melting snow will give more water to rivers, and the floods in Siberia will be more intense than before. Climate variability grows as the climate changes, and we need more studies to be able to predict new weather patterns. 

'Generally we all are not so interested in the fact that the global temperature changed to 0,5 degree; but we are very keen to understand new patterns of droughts and heavy rainfalls'. 

snow in May in Siberia

snow in May in Siberia

snow in May in Siberia

End of May 2014 in Siberia. Pictures from Altay and Novosibirsk: Olga Loshkareva, Aleksandra Zaitseva

One particular aspect has urgent and far-reaching implications for northern regions of Siberia in the permafrost belt.

'I can say for sure that there is a constant slow thawing of the permafrost,' said Professor Meleshko, a doctor of Physical and Mathematical sciences, and Honored Scientist of the Russian Federation.

'The border of the permafrost by the 2050, 2060 will move up by about 100, 150 kilometres. The process is quote slow, but it is underway. 

'As of now we register permafrost thawing from five to fifteen centimeters - it might seem minute to some, but it is very significant. There are already shifts and dips in the ground, with some buildings getting destroyed. We need to change approach to construction in such regions and build differently, perhaps use piles or base buildings on rocks. I would say it is a very important issue that needs to be treated with great attention'.

Comments (6)

Yes methane could be anywhere from 300 to 1,000 times stronger than CO2 as a GHG depending on levels of concentrations. And they are not tell us.
Robert Atack, New Zealand
08/05/2015 02:41
Large areas of Siberia can turn into a sea area, if where the terrain topographic height is lowered due to melting permafrost.
Suominen, Vaasa Finland
16/07/2014 11:43
This is all a Commie, liberal B.S. UN/Russians/socialists trying to make US dependent on foreign oil!

John in Houston, Houston, Texas, U.S.A.
10/07/2014 10:28
As a consequence of warming, every year there are hundreds of kms new for farming in Siberia. Russia could learn from the Netherlands to dry some areas after the permafrost has meltef so they can be useful for farming. There is a huge opportunity for new farmland in Siberia.
Enrique, Spain
01/06/2014 21:14
No mention of methane release, which is the really scary part of Arctic meltdown, because it is much more potent than CO2 and will really speed up the pace of climate change, and even cause larger-scale fires than we have ever seen.
Davd Shinnako, Alaska
31/05/2014 02:58
ok what I would really like to understand if how will it affect the rest of the world, and have scientists united and quick to get this work done
Tiina, France
29/05/2014 14:34

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