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State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low

By The Siberian Times reporter
09 September 2019

Desert-like landscapes replaced full-flowing water deep enough for heavy cargo ships.

The mayor of Yakutsk Sardana Avksentyeva ordered to dig into the sandy river bed to allow better flow into a water intake which supplies the whole city of 282,000 people

Hundreds of fishing and cargo vessels are stuck in the sand around Yakutsk, the regional capital of Yakutia, officially Sakha Republic. 

No winter supply deliveries - vital for the region’s remote corners and thousands of people that live along the river and up on Yakutia’s Artic shore - are possible until the water level rises again.

The mayor of Yakutsk Sardana Avksentyeva ordered to dig into the sandy river bed to allow better flow into a water intake which supplies the whole city of 282,000 people.

This should prevent potential water shortages later in the autumn. 

State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low


State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low


State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low


State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low
No winter supply deliveries - vital for the region’s remote corners and thousands of people that live along the river and up on Yakutia’s Artic shore - are possible until the water level rises again


Yakutsk, Russia’s coldest inhabited city and its diamond capital, has always been dependant on water level in the Lena. 

Usually one of the most full flowing in Russia, the river tends to drop the level twice a year - but not by a catastrophic 2-2.5 metres as this year. 

One of the reasons that caused the drought was this summer’s wildfires, as rain water doesn’t stay in burnt, lifeless soil while smoke destroys clouds. 

The Lena River shallowing comes in cycles and can last for several years, head of Yakutia Aisen Nikolayev told Ria Novosti at the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok. 

‘Once the shallowing has started it’ll go on for a while, with problems in the river getting much worse than now’, Nikolaev stressed. 

‘I remember goods delivery disrupted in 1985 due to Lena shallowing. 

‘The Soviet Union had to use military aviation to bring hundreds of thousands ton of fuel to make sure its diamond mines continued to work until winter roads were good enough to drive on them. 

It’s not to underestimate the seriousness of the issue.’ 

State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low


State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low


State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low
Desert-like landscapes replaced full-flowing water deep enough for heavy cargo ships


Problems with plane fuel delivery caused emergency situation in Yakutsk and its river port district Zhatai, with local authorities urgently seeking alternative routes to provide companies with fuel. 

Nikolaev once again stressed the importance of building a bridge across the Lena - a complicated and expensive project due to the need to build on permafrost - which the region has been asking for years. 

‘Yakutia is so dependant on the state of the river today. If there were a bridge across the river near Yakutsk, the problem would have been solved.  

‘The main flow of cargo traffic which goes to western areas of Yakutia would have used the bridge’, Nikolaev said. 

State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low, video courtesy Ykt.ru


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWQ-U-N7Ztk&feature=youtu.be


State of emergency in Yakutsk as Russia’s permafrost river dries to a record low

Comments (2)

With the river shallow and with soil now above water and not yet covered in permafrost, perhaps permafrost then would not present a challenge for building a bridge over the Lena River. Perhaps concrete ramps 8 to 10 meters thick could be built at both shores, where when the water level rises back, the bridge would remain perfectly stable at both shores, even with the permafrost. Since the shore portions could consist of concrete ramps several meters thick. And perhaps embankment could be poured on both sides next to each ramp, so that when the water level rises back, the water would not reach the outer ends of the ramps and the pavement off each end would not become unstable by water from the rising Lena River.
Richard Garcia, United States
12/10/2019 10:54
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I was so very sorry to read this article. About six years ago we visited Yakutsk and sailed up the Lena River to Tiksi and back, and it was one of the greatest experiences of our lives to see the majesty of your forests, and the river, and the tundra, and to meet the local people.
People all over the planet are at risk of climate change and countries should come together to discuss this issue and make plans to alleviate it.
Linda Wallan, Highworth, England
15/09/2019 06:08
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