All news

Yakutia uses system to forecast how climate changes may influence local rivers

"We have been working on this system jointly with experts from Sweden, using the Swedish hydrology model. The initial data will come from meteorology forecasts," Ludmila Lebedeva of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute noted

YAKUTSK, September 29. /TASS/. Scientists work on a system, which could forecast the climate changes’ impacts on rivers in Yakutia, Ludmila Lebedeva of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Russian Academy of Sciences’ Siberian Branch) said at the 3rd Northern Sustainable Development Forum.

"As for the main task of our project, it is to offer a system to forecast hazardous hydrology phenomena for the regional rivers," she said. "We have been working on this system jointly with experts from Sweden, using the Swedish hydrology model. The initial data will come from meteorology forecasts. The hydrology forecast uses the model and up-to-date data on water levels and ice specifications."

The climate changes are apparent across the globe, she continued. "In Russia, the changes have been more intensive than elsewhere, and in Yakutia and other Arctic regions they are even more intensive, and the temperatures are growing even faster. The changes influence the rivers’ hydrology, the ice formation and thawing. The ice tends to be thinner," she said, adding the world gets warmer by about 0.17o Celsius every decade, while in Russia the warming is 2.5 times quicker."

First test forecasts were issued in 2020. "Presently, this system is available on the Internet, <…> this forecast is in real time," she said. "Points [on the online map] show working hydrology stations in Yakutia, and forecasts are available for each of them." The forecasts include the following criteria: water spending, water level, gained snow at river catchments, ice thickness and hardness, dates of ice opening. Experts have been improving the forecast accuracy.

According to the scientist, at most rivers in Yakutia water spending is not growing, this feature remains stable for decades. "But, for example, on the Lena River - if we take long periods like 75 years or more - at some stations we can see an important trend of growing spending. This means that with the current climate warming the risks of floods grow accordingly."

Most people in Yakutia live by rivers, she continued. "Different reports say between 130 and 250 settlements in Yakutia from time to time are flooded. Those are hundreds of thousands of people, very many houses and agricultural plots. Those settlements mostly are in Yakutia’s highly populated central area along the Lena and its tributaries - the Aldan, the Amga and others. Every year, Yakutia’s economic damage from the floods is about 1 billion rubles ($13.7 million), and the maximum damage was in 2001 - from the flood in Lensk, where the damage amounted 7 billion [rubles] ($96 million)," she added.

About forum

The 3rd Northern Sustainable Development Forum is underway in Yakutsk. The organizers are the Northern Forum, Yakutia’s government and the North-Eastern Federal University. The first Northern Sustainable Development Forum was organized in Yakutsk in 2019. TASS is the event’s general information partner.