According to a new Russian-US study, ne of the areas that will be most severely affected by climate change is the permafrost in Siberia.
Warming at unprecedented rates would cause severe melting of the permafrost, causing mass die-offs of reindeer and the resurrection of frozen strains of “zombie anthrax” – a danger to Siberian permafrost cities.
The study, which was published in the Geographical Review journal, has warned that climate change would pose risks on buildings and infrastructure of cities built on permafrost.
According to the study, the worst case scenario is that the “bearing capacity of buildings in permafrost regions would be reduced by 75-95 percent by 2050, as the thawing of the permafrost “can potentially lead to deformation and collapse of structures.”
The study examined four Siberian cities: Salekhard, Norilks, Yakutsk, and Anadyr. All four cities are build on permafrost, and make up about 63 percent of Russian territory.
Several studies have shown that the Russian arctic is warming up at a significantly higher rate than the rest of the world, at about 0.12C per year.
“On average, the fastest changes are projected for Salekhard and Anadyr. There the bearing capacity has potential to decrease to critical levels by (the) mid-2020s,” according to the authors. “In Yakutsk and Norilsk, the critical climate-induced decrease in bearing capacity is expected around (the) 2040s.”
The authors say that new construction techniques should definitely be considered in light of the changes in the permafrost that have already happened and will continue to happen.
“Our analysis demonstrates that climate-induced permafrost changes can potentially undermine the structural stability of foundations, indicating a clear need for adopting construction norms and regulations for permafrost regions that account for projected climate changes.”
Scientists say that the reduced stability of urban infrastructure should be expected by 2050, urging immediate response to the warning.