Russian and German institutes discuss climate change in northern Russia

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Tomsk State University and the German Consulate General in Novosibirsk recently organized a conference entitled “Adapting the Siberian Environment to Climate Change: Ecological and Social Aspects”. Leading researchers from world-class Russian and German research centers participated in the conference in a mixed format: Sukachev Institute of Forest SB RAS, Earth Cryosphere Institute SB RAS, Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, University of Hannover, Institute of Geography of the University of Bonn et al. The conference was one of the important events of the Year of Germany and the Year of Science and Technology in Russia.

The two-day Russian-German conference included several specialized sections on different topics: tundra, taiga, permafrost, glaciers, wetlands and others. Special attention was paid to indigenous peoples, who are most affected by climate and environmental change.

“The average temperature of the Earth is rising steadily. We see the prospect of dramatic climate change, so we must join forces and act quickly, ”noted Terry Callaghan, professor at TSU and the University of Sheffield, one of the world’s most recognized scientists in the field. field of arctic ecology. “Siberia and the Arctic are warming 3 or 4 times faster than the rest of the world. This triggers other processes like thawing permafrost, most of which is in Russia. Erosion processes increase and thawing permafrost increases the number of landslides. The landscape and flora change radically.

Georg Guttenberger of the University of Hanover noted that Siberia is an important part of the Earth and that all the processes taking place here affect not only Siberia but the whole world. Siberia is a key region for climate research. TSU has extensive experience in studying the macro-region and many research opportunities, and German universities are interested in this partnership.

Professor Terry Callaghan added that the transformation of the environment caused by climate change influences the traditional way of life of the indigenous population. The expansion of shrubs, for example, endangers the tundra and the usual pastures of deer. Local fish species are being replaced by alien species, which can now adapt to warmer waters, causing fishing to decline. Local people eat less traditional food and more carbohydrates, which causes health problems. These problems call for new research to improve the quality of life in the Arctic.

“The Arctic is a priority issue for us,” said Grigory Ledkov, head of the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON), senator of the Russian Federation of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. “We discuss topics that are urgent for us: global warming and its impact on the social situation, the economy, the ecology. We have to adapt somehow. The warming of the Arctic will affect other regions – we have to be ready for it. Maybe we will have to change our engineering standards. A special issue is that of the social and economic aspects of the lives of indigenous peoples. We live on traditional crafts, and we demonstrate that our occupations – hunting, fishing, deer herding – can be profitable. They feed people, create workplaces and the land is not wasted. We want our activities to adapt and not be forgotten.

As Grigory Ledkov noted, it is also important to improve the quality of life of the local population – to ensure their access to the Internet, medical services and other needs. The senator also noted that it is impossible to solve these problems without participation in research and proposed to establish an Institute of Indigenous Peoples of the North based at TSU.

One of the major themes of the conference was the assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and the effectiveness of their sequestration. Research by Russian scientists proves that Russian forests absorb more carbon than previously thought. However, massive forest fires cause large explosions of CO2. This problem can be solved by better management of the environment, including the development of methods of early detection and prevention of forest fires.

The changes taking place in Siberia and the Arctic demand knowledge-based action, and time is running out. Experts say that if carbon emissions are not reduced, the average temperature on the planet will rise by 3.5 to 5.2 degrees Celsius, which will lead to ecological and economic disaster.

To accelerate research, TSU collaborates with various projects and organizes new forms of interaction. Six years ago, TSU organized SecNet, a global network that brought together leading researchers in Siberia and the Arctic. In 2021, TSU launched the “Global Earth Changes: Climate, Ecology, Quality of Life” consortium.

The results of the conference are reported in a resolution. He suggests, among other ideas, to create an open network resource to exchange information between relevant parties, establish communication with local indigenous people and involve them in research projects.

“TSU has always had close ties with Germany and German researchers,” said Artem Rykun, TSU’s vice-rector for international affairs. “The collaboration in the field of environmental research started after two visits of the former German council to Novosibirsk. He visited our university as well as two TSU research stations (Aktru and Kaibasovo), assessed the research potential of the university and facilitated TSU’s collaboration with research centers in Germany. We aim to continue these relationships and develop new ties.

TSU won the “Priority 2030” program in the Research Leadership component. It will provide public funding to expand our research on climate change and create technologies to adapt humanity to new conditions. TSU has already started to create new chemical and biological technologies for ecosystem remediation and sustainable development of the planet.


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