Forget colonizing Mars. We can all move to Russia when the world heats up.

We all know Russia is huge. The country is nearly twice the size
of Canada and roughly the same as the entire surface area of Pluto.
And this enormous land mass is sparsely populated: It has four
times more land area per capita than the United States.

The vast region of Siberia stands out even by Russian standards.
With 77 percent of Russia’s territory, it’s home to only 27
percent of the nation’s population, or 39 million people. Climate
is the main culprit. Permafrost covers most of Siberia making
agriculture and construction almost impossible. There is little
precipitation, too, which does not make the settlement any
easier.

Some relief could come from an unlikely source — climate
change. According to scientists from NASA Langley Research Center
and Krasnoyarsk Research Center, the inevitable rise of
temperatures and precipitation will improve potential for human
settlements in the Asian part of Russia by 2080s. Severe climate
conditions are predicted to become milder and favorable. This could
lead to up to a 9-fold increase in Siberia’s capacity to sustain
human population opening the way for surge of climate migrants.

For the
study
, the authors looked at two different warming scenarios.
By the 2080s, average January temperatures in Siberia will increase
either by 3.4 degrees C (6.12 degrees F) in the milder scenario or
by 9.1 degrees C (16.38 F) in the more extreme scenario. July
temperatures will rise to a much lesser degree — either by 1.9
degrees C or by 5.7 degrees C. The average rainfall per year will
increase by 60 millimeters (2 inches) in case of mild climate
change and by 140 millimeters (5.5 inches) in the case of the more
extreme one.

In both scenarios, Siberian climate would be much warmer and
milder by the 2080s. The permafrost zone would shift significantly
to the northeast. Life conditions and the ability to live in Asian
Russia would improve, allowing 3 to 9 times the current
capacity.

In the warmer climate, melting permafrost will create a suitable
environment for a higher agricultural potential yield in northern
Siberia. It won’t be all rainbows and unicorns though. Lack of
fertile soil could limit agriculture in the region regardless of
warmer climate. Moreover, the transition from permafrost to
non-permafrost would not be simple due to losing important
infrastructure like houses and roads. The infrastructure in the
Russian Arctic is already failing because of permafrost
degradation.

According to another recent
study
, the frequency and intensity of heavy rains are
increasing in Russia with a rate of 1–2 percent each decade
thanks to climate change. Winters in Western Siberia have became colder because anticyclones
block the flow of warm, moist air from the southern borders of the
region. And Siberian fauna is already experiencing harsh
consequences of climate change. Scientists found that Arctic
shorebirds have
experienced
an increase in nest predation consistent with
climate-induced shifts in predator-prey relationships.

Positive migration due to ongoing climate change will probably
be balanced by a population decrease. Russia’s population will
decline from 143.9 million to 132.7 million by 2050, according to
the U.N. Climate
migration could be the only way for Russia to reverse these
losses.

This story was originally published by Grist with the headline
Forget colonizing Mars. We can all move to Russia when the world
heats up.
on Jun 13, 2019.

Source: FS – All – Science – News
Forget colonizing Mars. We can all move to Russia when the world heats up.