Moth Man's prophecies at global warming conference

September 18, 2006

World experts on global warming gathering at the University of Leicester will discuss this week - amongst other topics- the danger posed to forests in Siberia by global warming ...and a moth.

The Climate and Land Surface Systems Interaction Centre at the University of Leicester is hosting an international scientific Symposium on "Environmental change in Siberia - Insights from Earth Observation and modelling" from 18-20 September 2006.

Scientists at the event will discuss a paper on the damage to trees by Siberian moth outbreaks.

A paper by Vladimir Petko to be delivered on Tuesday 19 September at the University's Conference Centre in Oadby discusses an integrated approach to monitoring of the Siberian moth population density.

The value of the project in reducing the threat of global climate change is highlighted in the following:

University of Leicester Professor Heiko Balzter, who has studied satellite images of Siberia for the past eight years, said: "Siberia is a global hotspot in the climate system. Because the Siberian ecosystems are largely temperature controlled the region is strongly affected by global warming. Large amounts of greenhouse gases are currently locked in the permafrost and in organic soils, and if released could accelerate the greenhouse effect. Forests affected by Siberian moth outbreaks are more susceptible to forest fires because of dry dead vegetation. Russian scientists have found that in the years following the moth damage even the forest that does not burn, the soil releases a higher amount of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide due to increased microbial activity."

Professor Balzter, of the Department of Geography, said the Symposium would bring together Russian, British and European scientists from different disciplines to develop new information systems for scientists and policy makers.

"It is rare to get Russian experts on global warming to address conferences in the UK and on this occasion we have a specialist who has engaged in moth management programmes who will talk about the impact it has had as part of an overall strategy in reducing the impact of global warming."

"The participants want to assess the magnitude and remaining uncertainties of environmental change in Siberia. The Siberian land mass has a profound impact on the climate in the Northern Hemisphere, and large-scale changes like the melting of permafrost or an increase in extreme forest fire years could potentially accelerate global climate change."
At the University of Leicester around 30 participating scientists from the UK, Russia, Austria, France, Italy and Germany will present new findings on the rapid environmental changes occurring in Siberia. They will use new satellite data of the vast forest tracts of Siberia in conjunction with Earth System models to provide evidence of the state of the environment.


Symposium "Environmental change in Siberia - Insights from Earth Observation and modelling"

18-20 September 2006, University of Leicester, UK

Venue: Stamford Hall, Stoughton Drive South, Oadby (on the outskirts of Leicester)


Professor Heiko Balzter will be at the conference at Stamford Hall between September 18-20. Please ring the Hall on 0116 271 5876 and ask for messages to be passed on to him.

University of Leicester

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