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New meteorology stations to enhance air pollution monitoring in the Arctic

Scientists are ready to help in the ecology monitoring

MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. /TASS/. Russia’s hydrometeorology service plans expanding its network of stations, monitoring air conditions in the Arctic. Experts say the new facilities will improve the air pollution monitoring.

According to the state program for the Arctic’s social and economic development, the new stations are due in 2021-2025. Experts, however, insist the program should be implemented much earlier, or the ecology control will be way behind the region’s industrial development.

Pollution sources

The main pollutants in the Arctic are big industrial enterprises, Deputy Director of the Arctic and Antarctic Studies Institute of the Russian hydrometeorology authority Igor Ashik told TASS.

"Spot sources of pollution are at major industrial centers of the Arctic regions," he said.

Head of the Severnoye meteorology center Sergei Pukanov told TASS that in the Arkhangelsk Region, the most polluted air is in the regional center. "The main sources of pollution in the Arkhangelsk Region are the pulp and paper industry, the heat electric generation, transport, shipbuilding and machine building," he said.

Yamal remains another point of tension. "Every year, about 600-700 thousand tonnes of polluting elements get into the air over Yamal. The average annual pollution concentration does not exceed the maximum acceptable level, but at the same time, the local stations have registered growing suspended pollutants and sulfur dioxide," press service of Yamal’s governor said.

Murmansk’s meteorologists say in that region the highest pollution is in Apatity, Zapolyarny, Kandalaksha, Kirovsk, Monchegorsk, Murmansk, Olenegorsk, and in Nickel - the areas, where big mining, metallurgical and chemical enterprises are working.

Experts say another problem is a shift of pollutants into the Arctic from other regions. Elena Agbalyan of the Arctic Studies Center said due to the global trans-border shift, pollutants from the entire Northern hemisphere move into the Arctic zone. "Thus, the problem of ecology research is extremely important nowadays," she said.

Control stations

The state program on the social and economic development of the Arctic plans construction of new hydrometeorology stations, and modernization of the existing stations in 2021-2025.

Under that program, the hydrometeorology service will replace 13 existing automatic pollution-monitoring stations in Murmansk, Arkhangelsk, Severodvinsk, Novodvinsk and Salekhard, and will restore four earlier suspended stations in Norilsk, as well as will organize air monitoring in Noyabrsk and Novy Urengoi (four new stations). The authority will also modernize the working stations in the Murmansk Region’s district next to the border with Norway, and in Vorkuta.

Besides, the service will organize four new information centers and will buy six mobile ecology laboratories.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Sergei Yastrebov told TASS the monitoring systems may control not only the air pollution, but, for example, the ice situation. "After 2021, the money will be allocated for modernization of the entire system - not just to expand it, but to modernize, and the work would be in a complex," he said. "We shall control the environment, the radiation security."

Experts have agreed stronger control is necessary, Igor Ashik said the number of monitoring stations in the Arctic had shrunk by 2-3 times over the recent decades. "In the 1990s, many were closed down, and now we face no financing," the scientist said.

Director General of the Taifun association Vyacheslav Shershakov shares this position. "Today, we do not have an exhaustive picture of the environment in the Russian Arctic; we have only separate monitoring stations in the industrial areas, and also on Spitsbergen," he said.

Better early than late

At the same time, some experts have expressed concern the program’s term is too long to wait. Yamal’s authorities say the monitoring stations should begin working immediately. "The regional government plans asking the Russian government to begin sooner the project on development of the state network for air pollution monitoring," the governor’s press service said.

Taifun’s head Vyacheslav Shershakov also regretted the state program for the Arctic’s development plans expenses on the environmental monitoring for 2020-2021 only, while the active phase of organizing the Arctic backbone zones is due to begin in 2018 already. "The monitoring should go ahead of active practical work," he explained, adding a good example of constructing the Olympic facilities in Sochi. The environment monitoring systems there were ready two years ahead of the construction in order to watch whether it causes any negative consequences. "The monitoring of the construction’s effect on the landscape lasted for two years after the Games, and a similar approach should be in other cases, like in the Arctic," he added.

Ecology self-control

An important means to improve the ecology control is to involve actively the regions, experts say. The Taifun Association told TASS a local monitoring system should be working along with the federal system. "In many cities, like Krasnoyarsk, such systems have been working, but, on the other hand, for example, Murmansk does not have a regional system," the association said.

In some regions, the businesses are working actively on the ecology monitoring. Head of the Severnoye meteorology center Sergei Pukanov told TASS the region’s enterprises have been participating very actively in the air monitoring. "For example, the sanitary-industrial laboratory of the Ilim Group in Koryazhma has a special monitoring station, and hydrometeorology specialists help with the methods there," he said.

Nornickel is also working in this direction. The company monitors the air in Norilsk’s industrial region. The company’s branch has a specially accredited laboratory there. "The branch has a license for working in hydrometeorology, under which all the air monitoring data are transferred to the country’s hydrometeorology authority," Nornickel told TASS.

Scientists are ready to help in the ecology monitoring. Under the PEEX international scientific program, organized by Russia, China and Europe, the countries have begun working on an international climate monitoring station. The Tyumen scientific center of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian branch, the Tyumen State University, governments of the Tyumen Region and of Yamal have signed an agreement on it.