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Permafrost will be protected legislatively

  • Published in Nature

Our task is to approach the adoption of legislative decisions on the protection of permafrost.

This has already become an urgent need, said Vyacheslav Shtyrov, Chairman of the Arctic and Antarctic Council under the Federation Council, a representative of the executive body of the state power of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) at the meeting of the Council on Arctic and Antarctic with the Federation Council on the topic "On legislative provision for the preservation of permafrost soils in the economic development of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation."

According to Vyacheslav Shtyrov, at present in some regions and settlements of the Arctic zone permafrost is in a degrading state. Economic issues often arise because of this, and most importantly, there is a threat to people's lives. "Measures to protect permafrost should be substantially increased," the legislator stressed.

During the meeting, it was noted that in recent decades, the nature of the Arctic has been affected by global climate change, which is three to four times faster than the global average. As a result of the melting of permafrost, the soil density changes, and the engineering structures, buildings and foundations of residential buildings lose their bearing capacity. Also in recent decades, significant areas of arable land have become unusable due to subsidence of soils.

Chairman of the Committee of the State Assembly (Il Tumen) of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) on land relations, natural resources and ecology Vladimir Prokopiev said that, in addition to the already adopted law on the protection of permafrost in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) the regional parliament has developed the draft federal law, which proposes to determine the legal basis of public policy in this area.

Following the meeting, recommendations were made to the Government of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Construction and Housing and Communal Services of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation aimed at ensuring the safety of permafrost soils in the economic development of the Arctic zone of Russia, the press service of the Federation Council reported.

Earlier, the head of the cryogenic landscape laboratory of the Permafrost Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksandr Fedorov, said that permafrost, on which most of the territory of Yakutia is located, could completely melt by 2040.

"The most vulnerable areas on the territory of Yakutia are plain-like areas, where about 30% of the territory of Yakutia is located - the entire central densely populated part of the republic. According to the forecasts of world scientists, complete degradation of permafrost may occur by 2040," Fedorov said. According to the Institute of Permafrost Institute SB RAS, on average in Yakutia, subsidence occurs 10-14 cm per year due to the melting of permafrost.

The territory of Yakutia is 60% in the permafrost zone. According to scientists, in connection with global warming, annual permafrost occurs. In the republic, more than 80% of the plains suffer from these processes, where the agricultural areas are located.

"Since the 1980s, the average annual temperature in the area of the city of Yakutsk has risen by 3 degrees, which greatly affects the melting of permafrost. It is already felt in the central part of the republic - there are thermokarst watered lakes, plots of land in degrading places are becoming unusable, one cannot build or carry out agricultural activities," said Fedorov.

The main reason for the degradation of permafrost is the reduction in the area of protective forests. The forest protects the permafrost, it begins to melt when cutting down or otherwise destroying the forest cover.

The disappearance of the permafrost will lead to significant problems for the infrastructure of the Arctic cities, which is also worn out. In the regions it is believed that, without waiting for these changes, it is necessary to start taking into account the possible consequences of the disappearance of the permafrost already at the planning and design stage when building new buildings and roads.

"We need to make such projects that could function in the range of changes that climatologists give. At the design stage, it is necessary to take into account various development scenarios, including warming," said Mikhail Zheleznyak, director of the Permafrost Institute of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, located in Yakutsk and the only Russian institute on permafrost problems.