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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’s Mixed Effects in Northern Europe

66.7N 29.7E

June 4th, 2013 Category: Climate Change AVHRRMetOp

Northern Europe – June 1st, 2013

This image focuses on northern Europe, including parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden, northwestern Russia and Estonia. In northern Europe, climate change is initially projected to bring mixed effects, including some benefits such as reduced demand for heating, increased crop yields, and increased forest growth. However, as climate change continues, negative impacts are likely to outweigh benefits. These include more frequent winter floods, endangered ecosystems, and increasing ground instability (click here for more information).

Climate Change in Northern Europe

67.2N 27.6E

June 2nd, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Vegetation Index

Northern Europe – June 1st, 2013

Higher than average temperatures have been observed across Europe as well as decreasing precipitation in southern regions and increasing precipitation in northern Europe. Extreme weather events such as heat waves, floods and droughts have caused rising damage costs across Europe in recent years.

While precipitation is decreasing in southern regions, it is increasing in northern Europe, and these trends are projected to continue. Climate change is projected to increase river flooding, particularly in northern Europe, as higher temperatures intensify the water cycle.

Many studies have measured widespread changes in plant and animal characteristics. For example, plants are flowering earlier in the year. Here, the vegetation index is stronger (dark green) to the south, and weaker (yellow) near the northern coastline, although it is mostly good throughout the image.

In freshwater, phytoplankton and zooplankton blooms are also appearing earlier. Other animals and plants are moving northward or uphill as their habitats warm. Since the migration rate of many species is insufficient to keep pace with the speed of climate change, they could be pushed towards extinction in the future.

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).

Climate Change Affecting Ice and Food Chain of Lake Baikal, Russia

53.1N 107.6E

May 7th, 2013 Category: Climate Change, Lakes

Russia – May 7th, 2013

Siberia’s Lake Baikal (bottom left), the world’s largest and most biologically diverse lake, faces the prospect of severe ecological disruption as a result of climate change. Scientists have reported that the most pressing threat comes from the dependence of the lake’s food chain on microscopic algae.

Lake Baikal’s algae are particularly vulnerable to expected reductions in the length of time the lake is frozen each winter. However, the lake’s climate has become measurably milder over recent decades, and that annual precipitation is expected to increase. The average ice depth in the lake is believed to have decreased in recent decades, and the ice-free season to have increased. Changes in the lake’s food-chain composition have also been noted.