Large parts of Asian Russia could become habitable by the late 21st century due to climate change, new research has found.
A study team from the Krasnoyarsk Federal Research Center, Russia, and the National Institute of Aerospace, USA, used current and predicted climate scenarios to examine the climate comfort of Asian Russia and work out the potential for human settlement throughout the 21st century.
They published their results today in Environmental Research Letters.
At 13 million square kilometres Asian Russia — east of the Urals towards the Pacific — accounts for 77 per cent of Russia’s land area. Its population, however, accounts for just 27 per cent of the country’s people and is concentrated along the forest-steppe in the south, with its comfortable climate and fertile soil.
“Previous human migrations have been associated with climate change. As civilisations developed technology that enabled them to adapt, humans became less reliant on the environment, particularly in terms of climate,” said the study’s lead author Dr Elena Parfenova, from the Krasnoyarsk Federal Research Center.
“We wanted to learn if future changes in climate may lead to the less-hospitable parts of Asian Russia becoming more habitable for humans.”
For their analysis, the team used a combination of 20 general circulation models (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) and two CO2 Representative Concentration Pathway scenarios — RCP 2.6 representing mild climate change and RCP 8.5 representing more extreme changes.
They applied the collective means of January and July temperatures and annual precipitation of the two scenarios to Asian Russia to find their respective effects on three climate indices that are important for human livelihood and well-being: Ecological Landscape Potential (ELP), winter severity, and permafrost coverage.
Read more at IOP Publishing