Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Russia's top cities wake up to need for climate change adaptation

Angelina Davydova in Thomson Reuters Foundation: Russia’s two biggest cities, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, have started working out how they should adapt to the impacts of climate change, including warmer temperatures, floods and rising sea levels. And it’s not before time, experts say, as scientific data suggests climatic changes in the world’s northern and Arctic regions are occurring more rapidly than elsewhere.

“In Russia, global warming is happening even quicker than average on Earth - in some parts of the country, especially in Siberia and in the Arctic, up to two times faster,” said Vladimir Katsov, director of the Voeikov Main Geophysical Observatory in St Petersburg.

In 2013, mean annual rainfall increased by 13 percent from the previous year, and in Ru
ssia’s Far East by as much as 20 percent. This region was badly hit by floods last autumn, with economic costs amounting to $1.4 billion.

Climate change is expected to bring more extreme weather and climate-linked disasters, while having major impacts on food security, forestry and other ecosystem services. Worse still, the melting of the Arctic and permafrost could have a multiplier effect, causing even more greenhouse gases to be released into the atmosphere.

In early June, natural disasters swept across eastern Russia, from floods in the Altai Region of south Siberia to forest fires in neighbouring regions of Eastern Siberia and the Far East.  In the summer of 2010, forest fires and the worst heat wave in Central Russia for 130 years caused heavy smog in Russia’s capital, Moscow, resulting in around 11,000 excess deaths....

Aerial view of St. Petersburg by ERIC SALARD, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons 2.0 license

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