Russian scientists have developed a permafrost monitoring system

It has been repeatedly noted that global warming in Russia is happening faster than in the whole planet.  The Arctic is warming up especially quickly, which risks turning into a rainy region in the near future.  According to scientists, in the Arctic the temperature rises four times faster than the global average.

This, in turn, leads to heating of the soil and melting of permafrost in northern Siberia.  Once strong soils eventually become unstable, leading to the destruction of buildings.  For example, on May 29, 2020 near Norilsk, presumably for this reason, a diesel fuel warehouse collapsed, as a result of which over 21 thousand tons of fuel fell into the river.  Moreover, the melting of permafrost poses another major threat - a large amount of methane and carbon dioxide is released into the environment.  It is obvious that global warming in the Arctic has become a serious problem not only for Russia, but for the whole world.  This made Russian scientists develop the first national permafrost monitoring system.

It is worth to note that in Russia there is the largest territory of permafrost in the world.  Such large cities, as Norilsk and Yakutsk, have been built on it.  Therefore, in October last year, President Vladimir Putin approved the creation of a new permafrost monitoring system, which will include 140 stations.  They will start receiving data as early as 2023. The project cost is estimated at 21 million dollars.

Data on the state of permafrost will be provided by sensors located in wells at different depths, up to 30 meters.  In total, about 440 wells operated by research organizations and private companies such as Norilsk Nickel will be equipped with the sensors.

The sensors will transmit information not only about soil temperature, but also a number of other parameters, such as the amount of carbon dioxide and methane emitted into the atmosphere, soil moisture, ice content and much more.

The permafrost monitoring system will track various soil parameters, including gas emissions.

Knowing how quickly permafrost heats up and thaws is critical to assessing the fate of trillions of tons of carbon in frozen organics.  In other words, there is more carbon in the soil than the atmosphere is currently holding.  Once thawed, microbes can decompose organic matter and release carbon into the air.  All this can significantly accelerate the process of global warming.

“The addition of carbon dioxide and methane sensors will make the system even more powerful and accurate.  However, even simple sensors that provide information on soil temperature will significantly help calibrate estimates of carbon flux simulations in permafrost, ” says Guido Grosse, a researcher at the Alfred Wegener Institute who studies permafrost.

The permafrost monitoring system will be controlled by Roshydromet.  The organization was chosen to manage the system in part because connecting permafrost stations to the existing network of weather stations would minimize costs.  Roshydromet commissioned the design and deployment of the system to the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI), which currently has five permafrost monitoring sites in the Russian Arctic.  Alexander Makarov, director of AARI, says the first nodes can be deployed this summer.

Much has already been said about greenhouse gas emissions from melting permafrost.  However, according to experts, this process can entail other dangerous consequences.  One of them is the release of hazardous chemicals and radioactive materials left over from the Cold War.  These include radioactive fallout from nuclear explosions, as well as mercury, arsenic and other toxic substances.

Besides, according to a recent study, the disappearance of permafrost could release dangerous viruses and bacteria from the soil that have been dormant in the ice of the Arctic for the past several tens of thousands of years.  Thus, the melting of permafrost poses a climatic, chemical and bacteriological threat.  Finally, let me remind you that in order to prevent permafrost, a group of American scientists is working to "revive" the mammoth.  They plan to create not one animal, but several herds that will live in the Arctic.