August 21, 2020
MPI Participates in the Great Norilsk Expedition
From August 3 to 18, Sergey Serikov and Pavel Zabolotnik took part in the Great Norilsk Expedition in northern Krasnoyarsk Krai. This large-scale, multidisciplinary expedition was initiated by the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences (SB RAS) in cooperation with Nornickel in response to a massive diesel oil spill in the Arctic city of Norilsk. The expedition will continue from July to November 2020 and involve scientists from 14 member-institutes of the SB RAS. Its overall objective is to gain a holistic understanding of on-going anthropogenic and natural changes in order to develop specific recommendations and a general concept of economic management in the changing Arctic.
The first phase of the expedition included collection of water, bottom sediments, soils and plants in the Pyasina, Norilka and Ambarnoe Rivers and Pyasino Lake, as well as permafrost characterization in the oil spill area. The MPI scientists measured permafrost temperatures and thaw depths in the immediate vicinity of the failed storage tank. They also used the portable thermal probe designed by MPI to measure thermal conductivity and heat capacity of the soils. Field observations, drilling logs and remote sensing data will be used to characterize the current and future state of permafrost in the area.
On May 29, 2020, a fuel storage tank in the Norilsk Power Plant-3 failed, discharging about 21,000 cubic meters of diesel oil into the ground and local rivers and contaminating an area of 350 square kilometers. The incident is described as one of the largest oil spills in the Arctic with potentially catastrophic consequences for the environment.
July 03, 2020
Dr. Mikhail Zhelezniak Elected Sakha (Yakutia) Academy of Sciences Fellow
On July 2, 2020, the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) had its General Meeting to elect Academy President, Vice Presidents, Council Members and Fellows. Dr. Vasily Filippov was elected new President of the Academy, succeeding Prof. Igor Kolodeznikov who led the Academy from 2008 to 2019. Nine new Fellows were elected bringing the total number of full Fellows to 44. Those elected yesterday include MPI Director Dr. Mikhail Zhelezniak and Dr. Anatoly Nikolaev who was with MPI from 2001 to 2011 and now is Rector of the North-Eastern Federal University. MPI is also represented at the Academy by Professor Viktor Shepelev who was appointed to the Academy Council through this year’s election.
The Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) is a public institution founded in 1993 under Executive Order of RS(Y) President Mikhail Nikolaev. The Academy seeks to contribute to society’s economic, social and cultural progress by advancing fundamental and applied research, promoting regional collaboration, connecting academia with industry and community, and providing scientific and policy advice. Research activities are conducted by the Academy’s permanent research groups (e.g., paleoenvironmental research of the mammoth fauna; ethnosocial and ethnoeconomic studies; and human history of the Arctic), as well as through establishing task forces (e.g., compilation of the Encyclopedia of Yakutia, synthesis of anthropogenic impacts on the Lena River, and seismotectonic analysis and seismic zonation of the Arctic shelves). Today’s immediate tasks for the Academy are to guide the elaboration of the 2020-2024 Research and Technological Development Plan of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and to complete the organizational phase of The North: A Territory of Sustainable Development, a collaborative network that is intended to bring together research centers, universities, schools and companies in Yakutia and North-East Russia.
May 11, 2020
Victory Day - Remembering WWII Veterans
On May 9, Russia celebrated Victory Day, the holiday that commemorates the end of World War II. No other country suffered greater loss of life and destruction as the Soviet Union. Even after 75 years the exact number of military and civil casualties remains unknown. Over 62,000 people were called to the front from Yakutia alone, which had a pre-war population of 413,800, with more than half killed in action.
Many from the first generation of Soviet permafrost scientists fought on the battlefields of WWII. Petr Shvetsov, the author of three chapters in "Principles of Geocryology" (1959), volunteered to the Red Army in the early days of the war and took part in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk and the Operation Bagration. Evgeny Katasonov, who developed the cryofacies method in 1954, was wounded and captured in August 1941 when his regiment was encircled near the border with Poland. In June 1944 he escaped from the POW camp and joined the partisans in Slovakia and later the regular troops of the Red Army. Egor Molochushkin, who studied subsea permafrost in the Laptev Sea in the 1960s, was drafted to the Army in summer 1942 at the age of 19. He was badly wounded at the battle of Kursk where he fought as a private in the Rifles. Igor Nekrasov, who led large-scale regional permafrost studies all over Siberia in the 1960s-1980s, took command of an engineer platoon in January 1945 and met the victory day on the Oder. Nikolay Grigoriev, known for his pioneer investigations of the Arctic coastal permafrost, was assigned to Ferrying Division 78727-K in 1943 to conduct site investigations and construct auxiliary airfields for the ALSIB route. Nikolay Ivanov, the author of landmark books on heat and mass transfer in permafrost, served in communications units of the military airports in Yakutia and Magadan Region during the entire war.
June 25, 2020
MPI to Establish Test Sites on Regional Roads in Yakutia
In June 2020, MPI initiated a study under Contract OK-215, “Establishment of test sites on the regional road network in Yakutia for permafrost subgrade monitoring”. The first stage of the project involves the gathering of detailed information on current permafrost conditions under and adjacent to representative portions of Nam, Amga and Umnas, three major roads of regional significance. Researchers have begun work in key areas of the Nam Road between kilometer posts 36 and 38, 49 and 51, 63 and 64, and 70 and 72 to describe surface and subsurface conditions in adjacent terrain (300 m wide), to determine soil moisture contents and thaw depths, and to identify hazardous permafrost processes. A survey of pavement problems is underway.
98К-005 Nam is a 160.5-km-long road which links Yakutsk to the town of Namtsy via Zhatay and Kangalassy. 98K-003 Umnas is one of the longest roads in Yakutia with a total length of 1216.4 km of which 342 km is paved and the remaining part operates seasonally over land (~447 km) and over ice (~427 km). The route runs southwest along the Lena River from Yakutsk to Lensk. 98K-001 Amga is a 701.7-km route with a length of paved surface of about 571 km. The road starts at the junction of Federal Highway Lena near Nizhny Bestyakh and follows a mostly northwest/southeast course to Yugorenok. At many locations, the performance of the roads is unsatisfactory, primarily due to subgrade problems. The research program is intended to gain a better understanding of the factors influencing subgrade stability in order to improve road design and maintenance practices, as well as to provide a basis for developing a regional system of road performance monitoring.
April 12, 2020
IPA Revises Its Conference Plans for 2021-2023 due to COVID-19
The International Permafrost Association (IPA) has released a statement below about its revised future conference schedule:
International Permafrost Association Conferences
On 17 February, the International Permafrost Association (IPA) regrettably had to announce the cancellation of the 12th International Conference on Permafrost (ICOP 2020) due to the COVID-19 crisis. This conference had been scheduled for 22-26 June in Lanzhou, China. Following this decision, members of the IPA leadership, its International Advisory Committee, and conference local organizing committees thoroughly discussed possible options for the schedule of future IPA conferences. Chris Burn, IPA Senior Vice-President, led these discussions and developed a report concluding on the best possible future conference schedule, given this unprecedented situation. This schedule was agreed upon by the relevant parties and the IPA Executive Committee, and then was formally approved by a majority vote of the IPA Council by 23 March.
Thus, the IPA is pleased to announce our revised conference plans for the years 2021-2023:
This new plan was developed to ensure the best possible conferences and a balance in regional distribution of conference locations. The IPA extends sincere gratitude and thanks to the local organizing committees for their flexibility and the significant work undertaken in planning these conferences. The IPA looks forward to these conferences and hopes to see a strong showing of the permafrost community in these exciting locations.