Zones of Particular Climate Vulnerability

Russian scholars have developed a climate model which allows to identify the most vulnerable to climate change territories. Support of scholarly researches and programs for adaptation of Russian regions should be the priority of state support, representatives of public environmental organizations believe.

Academics from the A.N. Severtsov Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE RAS) researched climate self-regulation processes in Russian forests in the “south taiga” zone using apparatus mounted on board of climatic satellites and land-based stations. They calculated how the landscape and ecosystem features will change under the impact of climate change and specified the criteria of zonal identification of the areas where natural cataclysms are most probable. The Entropy and Ecological Modelling magazines published their results of their assessments.  The Russian scholars had been doing their studies at the Central Forest State Natural Biosphere Reserve.   


“Natural processes in complex systems are distinct by limited predictability and while rare but upsurge catastrophic transformations of their conditions.  Unpredictable and unusual weather activities have very strong impact on the economy and human life, Yury Puzachenko, Dr. Sci. in Geography, Senior Researcher of IEE RAS, told.


As the studies had shown, marshes, forests, and meadows are sensitive to warmth and sun light in a totally different manner; they have different regimes of water circulation, and for that reason, climate change has different impact on their growth and development. Comprehension of why and how it happens is important for forecasting outcomes of climate change, climatologists are sure. 

When boundaries of an ecosystem change, it suddenly becomes unstable and slightest changes in external conditions can lead to catastrophic outcomes for it and neighboring territories. Changes take place inside ecosystems: for instance, growing communities from other climate zones may appear.  Another example: in the result of temperature growth above a certain point after a series of fires, a forest zone can turn into a steppe or a marsh; due to alterations of the water balance, forests and meadows can swap places.   


In the opinion of scholars, many processes could be prevented if we “hold” forests, meadows, or marshes from reaching the “no return point.”  It is a lot easier to do this than eliminate the outcomes of cataclysms later on.  The model composed by Russian scholars can help authorities and nature protecting services to identify the areas where forest monitoring and management are most necessary with high accuracy. 


“The knowledge accumulated by now in the sphere of environment and geography allows us to resolve the majority of present tasks in agriculture and forestry, efficiently use renewable resources, and plan urban and rural territories in the most expedient and comfortable from the environmental viewpoint way.   However, the practices show that our knowledge of natural processes is quite limited and the nature keeps “showing the character” in the way unexplainable from the position of existing concepts and theories. This is why organization of long-term and permanent environmental studies becomes more and more essential.” Yu. Puzachenko believes. 


While the forecast of how climate changes affect the ecosystems is of great importance for any region in the world, it is an absolutely special issue for Russia. Conclusions of the recent Rosgidromet Report show: the annual average air temperature in Russia is going up 2.5 times faster than is the world as a whole.  Meteorologists specified in their report that since the 1970s, the air temperature had been growing at the rate of 0.45 degrees per ten years. 


Representatives of public environmental organizations find it important for Russia to adopt and finance state programs on climate adaptation along with theoretical researches in this sphere. In the opinion of Olga Senova, Director of the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social Ecological Union, the regions play the vital role in identification of the most essential goals for adaptation and the development of efficient local actions. The recently published material on Climate Change: What Regions Can Do? contains descriptions of approaches to establishing regional climatic plans, best practices of advanced regions, and also international tendencies in the development of climatic activities for cities and regions, of which preservation of natural ecosystems in the conditions of climate changes is an important part.