Staunton, Dec. 23 – Vladimir Putin may be working to expand the size of Russia, already the world’s largest country; but natural forces are working in the opposite direction. According to the Russian State Commission for Arctic Development, global warming is leading to the loss of some 70 square kilometers of territory as waters rise and shorelines there erode.
One of the scholars involved in this study, Stanislav Ogorodov of Moscow State University, says that this loss is “comparable to the area of the Central District of Moscow” (akcent.site/mneniya/17813 and thebarentsobserver.com/ru/klimaticheskiy-krizis/2021/12/kazhdyy-god-v-rossiyskoy-arktike-ischezaet-7000-gektarov-poberezhya).
Global warming is having that impact not only because of subsidence from the melting of permafrost but also from the larger waves now prevalent on the Arctic Ocean as a result of the declining area covered by ice for much of the year. As a result, some of Russia’s coastline is receding; and it is changing as well.
Until recently, most of the Arctic coastline of the Russian Federation has changed from being “frozen cliffs” to one of shallow waters with narrow beaches. And that in turn makes it more difficult for vessels to land and offload supplies than was the case before: they simply can’t approach the shore as closely or count on its stability.
This is already having an impact. Earlier this year, for example, Moscow postponed the construction of a new port in the Nenets Autonomous district because of shifts in the coastline and instability of the land there (thebarentsobserver.com/ru/arktika/2021/09/stroitelstvo-porta-v-indige-otkladyvaetsya-iz-za-izmeneniya-klimaticheskih-usloviy).