MOSCOW, April 27. /TASS/. Russia is shedding up to 10 meters of its Arctic Ocean’s coastline per year due to waves, winds and thawing permafrost amounting to annual losses the size of the territory of Liechtenstein, the press service of the Lomonosov Moscow State University’s Faculty of Geography said.
"The Arctic Ocean’s shores, subject to thermal abrasion, are being eroded at the speed of 1 to 5 meters per year, and in certain cases up to 10 meters in a number of sections. As a result, Russia annually sees several hundred square kilometers of its territory crumble away. In terms of area, these losses are comparable to the size of a small European state, for example, such as the Principality of Liechtenstein," the press service quoted Stanislav Ogorodov, who heads the Laboratory of Geoecology of the North.
Geographers noted that almost all of the Russian Arctic’s coastline is in the permafrost zone, and along nearly half of its length, the shores are composed of permafrost soils with high ice content — from 20% to 50%, and in some areas in Eastern Siberia — up to 80-95%. It is in the coastal zone that icy frozen soils are exposed not only to the thermal effects of air and water, but also to sea waves.
At the same time, scientists found out that amid climate change in the summer, drifting ice goes further north, and the coastal area is freed from ice for a longer period. As a result, the period of thawing of frozen soils and the mechanical impact of waves on the shore increases. An increase in the wave length’s acceleration, in turn, provides a growth in the height and duration of storm surges, further washing away the coast.
"Climate change is a popular topic now. One can often hear that as a result of the warming, permafrost degradation will occur extremely quickly, and we will face a catastrophic destruction of coasts at speeds of almost tens of meters per year. Indeed, after 2005, together with the ice cover in the Arctic basin thawing, our observations have recorded a noticeable acceleration in the retreat of the permafrost-laden shores, and the erosion ledge formed in a number of previously stable areas and the shore’s active destruction has begun. Yes, the speed of the destruction of the cryolithozone shores has accelerated, but we don’t see any disaster here," Ogorodov stated.