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GEOGRAPHY, ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY

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Vol 5, No 3 (2012)

GEOGRAPHY

4-13 205
Abstract
Research of the forest ecosystems dynamics of northwestern Russia on the Kola Peninsula (the Imandra Lake watershed) under the influence of strong anthropogenic impacts caused by the industrial complex “Severonikel” over the last 70 years was carried out. Statistical analysis was used for comparison and interpolation of field data, multispectral remote sensing data (MRSD), and digital elevation model (DEM). From this analysis, the classification of natural and anthropogenic classes of the vegetation and land cover was developed; the model highlighted the key driving forces behind the spatial differentiation of vegetation (altitudinal climate gradients, anthropogenic disturbance, water supply, and development of the natural vegetation communities). In addition, the map of the current vegetation conditions at a scale of 1:100 000 was created. This map characterizes the large part of the Lapland Nature Reserve, the territory of the Khibiny mountains, as well as the polluted area near the metallurgical plant.
14-27 161
Abstract
The areas of Northern Eurasia and the Far North regions with a sharply continental climate are of particular interest to paleoclimatologists. The nature of these areas preserves many features of the Late Glacial period. However, the reliability of the classical paleoclimatic methods in these areas is low. It is known that climate may affect the δ13C value of plants, causing isotopic variations of up to 3‰. The authors propose to use the carbon isotope compositions of bone carbonate of herbivorous animals as a paleoclimatic indicator for the Polar Regions.
To test the potential of the proposed paleoclimatic indicator, the authors studied the carbon isotopic composition of carbonate of bone (reliably dated by the radiocarbon method) of Late Pleistocene mammals (mammoth mostly) from the area of the Lena River delta—the New Siberian Islands—Oyagossky Yar (the total of 43 samples). These data suggest that the Late Pleistocene climate in North Yakutia was not stable. Instability was expressed in the sharp, short-term (500–2000 years), occasional episodes of relatively warm climate that may be ranked as interstadials based on their intensity.
28-47 189
Abstract
We study changes in the position of the northern forest limit and state of vegetation in the taiga-tundra ecotone through aerial and satellite imagery in the context of climate variability and of the projected advance of forests to the north. Our research of reference sites in Kola Peninsula and in Central Siberia has been part of PPS Arctic project of the International Polar Year. Studying the dynamics of ecotones by remote sensing is difficult due to poor display of ecotone vegetation in satellite images, and this required a range of techniques, regionally adapted and based on remotely sensed data of different spatial resolution. We characterize the newly developed techniques that enabled to identify vegetation change in recent decades: advance of forest up the slopes by 30 m in the Khibiny Mountains; advance of lichen-dwarf shrub tundra into lichen tundra in the north of Kola Peninsula; increasing stand density in sparse larch forests in the Khatanga River basin in the Taimyr Peninsula.

ENVIRONMENT

48-63 266
Abstract
Russian Arctic represents the most typical landscapes of high latitudes: forest-tundra; tundra zone (with subzones of southern, typical and Arctic tundra), and the polar deserts zone. All types and variants of ecosystems, soils, and phytocenoses characteristic for the Arctic region as a whole are represented there. Recently the role of anthropogenic variants of tundra and meadows has also increased noticeably. There is up to 80% of all circumpolar biodiversity within terrestrial and water areas of the Russian sector of Arctic regions. Therefore the ecological projects directed on studying, preservation and sustainable use of biological resources in the Russian Arctic might be considered representative for the whole circumpolar area. The organization of several large reserves with a strict regime of protection is necessary for preservation of unique biodiversity of this region. The development of areas of traditional wildlife management could solve both ethno-cultural and ecological problems, including the conservation of terrestrial Arctic biota.
64-81 271
Abstract
In recent years, the Government of the Russian Federation considerably increased attention to the exploitation of the Russian Arctic territories. Simultaneously, the evaluation of snow avalanches danger was enhanced with the aim to decrease fatalities and reduce economic losses. However, it turned out that solely reporting the degree of avalanche danger is not sufficient. Instead, quantitative information on probabilistic parameters of natural hazards, the characteristics of their effects on the environment and possibly resulting losses is increasingly needed. Such information allows for the estimation of risk, including risk related to snow avalanches. Here, snow avalanche risk is quantified for the Khibiny Mountains, one of the most industrialized parts of the Russian Arctic: Major parts of the territory have an acceptable degree of individual snow avalanche risk (<1×10-6). The territories with an admissible (10-4–10-6) or unacceptable (>1×10-4) degree of individual snow avalanche risk (0.5 and 2% of the total area) correspond to the Southeast of the Khibiny Mountains where settlements and mining industries are situated. Moreover, due to an increase in winter tourism, some traffic infrastructure is located in valleys with an admissible or unacceptable degree of individual snow avalanches risk.
82-87 181
Abstract
The paper presented herein discusses theoretical and practical aspects of formation artificial firn-ice masses and prospects for their use in solutions of practical and environmental problems. The method utilizes winter sprinkler irrigation with long-jet sprinklers. The mass of artificial firm can be as high as 10 meters. This application is effective for treatment and desalination to protect water resources from contamination. Mineralization of artificial firn is 5–10 times lower than the salinity of the original water. The dynamics of the removal of salts ions, microelements, and dissolved organic compounds during firn melting is assessed through mathematical modeling and experimental research. Melting of one-third of the firn mass decreases mineralization by more than a factor of 10.

SUSTAINABILITY

88-103 217
Abstract
The article discusses the natural heritage of Taimyr (northern Siberia) within the perspective of the environmental conditions of the region. The assessment of its significance is based on the results of many years of Russian-Dutch ecological expeditions. Issues discussed are the responsibility for the preservation of heritage, the interests of the local indigenous peoples, and the role of public authorities. Based on the results of a pilot project, the feasibility of developing ecotourism as one of the most effective forms of sustainable use of the heritage is demonstrated.
104-119 337
Abstract
Arctic settlements built on permafrostface rather unique set of geotechnical challenges. On urbanized areas, technogenic transformation of natural landscapes due toconstruction of various types of infrastructure leads to changes in heat exchange in permafrost-atmosphere system. The spatial distribution and intensity of dangerous cryogenic processes in urbanized areas is substantially different from natural background settings found prior to construction. Climate change, especially pronounced in the Arctic, exacerbated these changes. Combination of technogenic pressure and climate change resulted in potentially hazardous situation in respect to operational safety of the buildings and structures built on permafrost. This paper is focused on geotechnical safety issues faced by the Arctic urban centers built on permafrost. Common types of technogenic impacts characteristic for urban settlements wereevaluated based on field observations and modeling techniques. The basic principles of development of deformations are discussed in respect to changing permafrost conditions and operational mode of the structures built on permafrost.

NEWS AND REVIEWS

120-128 97
Abstract
IGU COLD REGIONS ENVIRONMENTS COMMISSION ACTIVITIES: RUSSIA COOPERATION


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ISSN 2071-9388 (Print)
ISSN 2542-1565 (Online)