Nav: Home

Could climate change make Siberia habitable for humans?

June 06, 2019

Large parts of Asian Russia could become habitable by the late 21st century due to climate change, new research has found.

A study team from the Krasnoyarsk Federal Research Center, Russia, and the National Institute of Aerospace, USA, used current and predicted climate scenarios to examine the climate comfort of Asian Russia and work out the potential for human settlement throughout the 21st century.

They published their results today in Environmental Research Letters.

At 13 million square kilometres Asian Russia - east of the Urals towards the Pacific - accounts for 77 per cent of Russia's land area. Its population, however, accounts for just 27 per cent of the country's people and is concentrated along the forest-steppe in the south, with its comfortable climate and fertile soil.

"Previous human migrations have been associated with climate change. As civilisations developed technology that enabled them to adapt, humans became less reliant on the environment, particularly in terms of climate," said the study's lead author Dr Elena Parfenova, from the Krasnoyarsk Federal Research Center.

"We wanted to learn if future changes in climate may lead to the less-hospitable parts of Asian Russia becoming more habitable for humans."

For their analysis, the team used a combination of 20 general circulation models (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) and two CO2 Representative Concentration Pathway scenarios - RCP 2.6 representing mild climate change and RCP 8.5 representing more extreme changes.

They applied the collective means of January and July temperatures and annual precipitation of the two scenarios to Asian Russia to find their respective effects on three climate indices that are important for human livelihood and well-being: Ecological Landscape Potential (ELP), winter severity, and permafrost coverage.

Dr Parfenova said: "We found increases in temperature of 3.4°C (RCP 2.6) to 9.1°C (RCP 8.5) in mid-winter; increases of 1.9°C (RCP 2.6) to 5.7°C (RCP 8.5) in mid-summer; and increases in precipitation of 60 mm (RCP 2.6) to 140 mm (RCP 8.5).

"Our simulations showed that under RCP8.5, by the 2080s Asian Russia would have a milder climate, with less permafrost coverage, decreasing from the contemporary 65 per cent to 40 per cent of the area by the 2080s."

The researchers also found that even under the RCP 2.6 scenario, the ELP for human sustainability would improve in more than 15 per cent of the area, which could allow for a five-fold increase in the in the capacity of the territory to sustain and become attractive to human populations.

Dr Parfenova concluded: "Asian Russia is currently extremely cold. In a future warmer climate, food security in terms of crop distribution and production capability is likely to become more favourable for people to support settlements.

"However, suitable land development depends on the authorities' social, political and economic policies. Lands with developed infrastructure and high agricultural potential would obviously be populated first.

"Vast tracts of Siberia and the Far East have poorly developed infrastructure. The speed these developments happen depends on investments in infrastructure and agriculture, which in turn depends on the decisions that should be made soon."
-end-


IOP Publishing

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
Predicting climate change
Thomas Crowther, ETH Zurich identifies long-disappeared forests available for restoration across the world.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Teaching For Better Humans 2.0
More than test scores or good grades–what do kids need for the future? This hour, TED speakers explore how to help children grow into better humans, both during and after this time of crisis. Guests include educators Richard Culatta and Liz Kleinrock, psychologist Thomas Curran, and writer Jacqueline Woodson.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#556 The Power of Friendship
It's 2020 and times are tough. Maybe some of us are learning about social distancing the hard way. Maybe we just are all a little anxious. No matter what, we could probably use a friend. But what is a friend, exactly? And why do we need them so much? This week host Bethany Brookshire speaks with Lydia Denworth, author of the new book "Friendship: The Evolution, Biology, and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond". This episode is hosted by Bethany Brookshire, science writer from Science News.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 3: Shared Immunity
More than a million people have caught Covid-19, and tens of thousands have died. But thousands more have survived and recovered. A week or so ago (aka, what feels like ten years in corona time) producer Molly Webster learned that many of those survivors possess a kind of superpower: antibodies trained to fight the virus. Not only that, they might be able to pass this power on to the people who are sick with corona, and still in the fight. Today we have the story of an experimental treatment that's popping up all over the country: convalescent plasma transfusion, a century-old procedure that some say may become one of our best weapons against this devastating, new disease.   If you have recovered from Covid-19 and want to donate plasma, national and local donation registries are gearing up to collect blood.  To sign up with the American Red Cross, a national organization that works in local communities, head here.  To find out more about the The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project, which we spoke about in our episode, including information on clinical trials or plasma donation projects in your community, go here.  And if you are in the greater New York City area, and want to donate convalescent plasma, head over to the New York Blood Center to sign up. Or, register with specific NYC hospitals here.   If you are sick with Covid-19, and are interested in participating in a clinical trial, or are looking for a plasma donor match, check in with your local hospital, university, or blood center for more; you can also find more information on trials at The National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project. And lastly, Tatiana Prowell's tweet that tipped us off is here. This episode was reported by Molly Webster and produced by Pat Walters. Special thanks to Drs. Evan Bloch and Tim Byun, as well as the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.  Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.