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Arctic Sea Ice by Russia and Climate Change Issues

69.8N 163.3E

June 18th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISTerra

Russia – June 18th, 2013

Since 1979 the Arctic region has been extensively monitored by satellites. They detect the ice surface area, the extent of the area covered with ice and also the total amount or volume of ice. The results of these observations are startling. For example, sea ice area and the amount of perennial (multi-year) ice has decreased dramatically over the past 3 decades. In 2012, the September average ice extent dipped below 4 million km², which is about half of what it was in 1979. Ice volume shows a comparable rapid decrease (click here for more information).

Environmental Issues for Volga River, Russia – June 16th, 2013

46.0N 49.2E

June 16th, 2013 Category: Image of the day, Rivers MODISAqua

Russia – June 16th, 2013

Draining most of western Russian, the Volga is the largest river in Europe. From its source in the Valdai Hills north east of Moscow the river flows east and south east to the Caspian Sea. This thumbnail images focuses on its delta at the shores of the Caspian Sea, while a larger portion of the river’s meanderings can be seen to the north upon opening the full image.

A large number of tributaries make up the Volga river system the delta where the river enters the Caspian is composed of hundreds of channels and lies 28 m below sea level. For three months of the year the river is frozen for most of its length, the presence of a large number of dams has improved navigation but has reduced the river’s flow.

Consequently the river is suffering from pollution compounded by the fact that it flows through some of the most populated area of the country and includes an important agricultural area. Half of all river freight in Russia uses the Volga, which is connected to the Black sea via the Don river and canals (click here for more information).

Russian Shores and Rapid Melting of Arctic Sea Ice

69.3N 161.2E

June 16th, 2013 Category: Climate Change MODISAqua

Russia – June 15th, 2013

Strong warming in the northern high latitudes is causing Arctic sea ice to rapidly melt. It’s one of several changes in the Arctic region, including increased melting of the Greenland ice sheet and permafrost in northern Russia and Alaska, which pose serious risks for the world as a whole. This image focuses on ice along the northern shores of Russia.

The area and thickness of Arctic sea ice fluctuates from year to year, and is affected by weather patterns, ocean circulation and other natural influences. However, the ice on the surface of the Arctic Ocean has been diminishing for the past 30 years, in both area and thickness. Over the past 10 to 15 years, it has begun to disappear faster. Recently, it has fallen to a record low (the previous record being in September 2007). Since 1980, the ice has roughly halved in area, and the volume of ice has dropped to just a quarter of what it was.

White ice reflects much more sunlight back to space than does ocean water, which absorbs incoming sunlight readily. As the area of sea ice decreases and the area of exposed ocean water increases, more sunlight is absorbed, heating the surface of the water and the atmosphere above it. This strengthens the Arctic region warming trend – average temperatures of the high northern latitudes are rising at double the global average temperature increase.

The Arctic sea ice is declining much more quickly than scientists expected only a decade ago. It is very likely that, with the continued decline in sea ice that has occurred over several decades, we’ve already crossed the point of no return and that we’ll have an ice-free Arctic Ocean during summer at some point in the near future. Scientists now consider this could happen by 2030 or even earlier (click here for more information).

Climate Change and Water Temperature of Lake Baikal, Russia

53.1N 107.6E

June 11th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes VIIRSSuomi-NPP

Russia – June 10th, 2013

Lake Baikal, the world’s largest, oldest, and most biotically diverse lake, is responding strongly to climate change, according to recent analyses of water temperature and ice cover. By the end of this century, the climate of the Baikal region will be warmer and wetter, particularly in winter. As the climate changes, ice cover and transparency, water temperature, wind dynamics and mixing, and nutrient levels are the key abiotic variables that will shift, thus eliciting many biotic responses.

Among the abiotic variables, changes in ice cover will quite likely alter food-web structure and function most because of the diverse ways in which ice affects the lake’s dominant primary producers (endemic diatoms), the top predator (the world’s only freshwater seal), and other abiotic variables. Melting permafrost will probably exacerbate the effects of additional anthropogenic stressors (industrial pollution and cultural eutrophication) and could greatly affect ecosystem functioning (click here for more information).

Climate Change in the Azov Sea Basin, Russia and Ukraine

46.0N 36.0E

May 8th, 2013 Category: Climate Change

Russia and Ukraine – May 8th, 2013

The Sea of Azov (bottom right quadrant) is a sea in the south of Eastern Europe. It is bounded to the north by mainland Ukraine, to the east by Russia, and to the west by the Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. The Don and Kuban are the major rivers that flow into it. The Sea of Azov is the shallowest sea in the world with the depth varying between 0.9 metres (2 ft 11 in) and 14 metres (46 ft).

The sea is largely affected by the inflow of numerous rivers, which bring sand, silt, and shells, forming numerous bays, limans, and narrow sandbanks called spits. Because of these deposits, the sea bottom is relatively smooth and flat with the depth gradually increasing toward the sea centre. Also, due to the river inflow, water in the sea has low salinity and high content of biological matter, such as green algae that affects the water colour.

The provinces of Russia and Ukraine located within the Azov sea basin are important producers of grains, sugar, sunflower, meat, and milk. Because of heavy dependence of regional economics on agriculture, and major effects of regional agriculture on food security of the entire countries, climate change impacts on food production and water resources constitute major threats to the food security of both Russia and Ukraine. Historically, major droughts frequently affected the agriculture of the region.

At first glance, recent climate change seems beneficial for agriculture of the region: warmer temperatures extend growing season and elevate the accumulated heat. However, further warming is not likely to be matched by higher precipitation, with negative impacts from the increasing aridity of climate. The most effective adaptation option, expansion of irrigation, is limited with high pressure on water resources, which is already high in many parts of the region (click here for more information).