First Set Of Permafrost Monitoring System Starts Working In Russia

The Putorana Plateau. Photo: Konstantin Leontiev, participant of the RGS’s contest "The Most Beautiful Country"
The Putorana Plateau. Photo: Konstantin Leontiev, participant of the RGS’s contest "The Most Beautiful Country"

In Russia, the creation of the first set of the State System for Background Permafrost Monitoring has been completed. In 2023, 20 observation points prepared by the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute began operation. The northernmost of them appeared on Hayes Island in Franz Josef Land.

The boreholes for monitoring permafrost are equipped in five subjects of the Russian Federation: in the Arkhangelsk Region, in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, in the Republic of Altai, in the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), and in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area. Data from all stations are received by the Permafrost Monitoring Center of AARI.

“To create 20 observation points this year, our specialists examined about 50 potential sites for the construction of the stations. Over the next two years, we’ll have to create another 60 monitoring points, in 2024 and 2025, respectively. Therefore, we need to check up to 250 possible locations for the monitoring stations. At the next stage, we will continue our work in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area, in Sakha-Yakutia, we will also create permafrost monitoring points in the Far East, in Buryatia, and we expect to launch the southernmost monitoring point in the Altai Republic. A unique core repository of frozen soil samples obtained during the deployment of the permafrost monitoring system will be created at our institute. We plan to open it during the next year, 2024," said Aleksandr Makarov, director of AARI.

The goals of creating the State System for Background Permafrost Monitoring are to assess the current situation, forecast changes, and reduce the negative effects of the melting permafrost soils in Russia. The operator of the unique system will be the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute.

The system will cover the entire territory of permafrost distribution: 65% of the country's area. In three years, 140 points conducting continuous automatic measurements of permafrost temperature at different depths will be created. The surveillance network will be deployed on the basis of the Roshydromet infrastructure. This will provide significant savings in the creation of additional infrastructure (buildings, roads, meteorological observation systems) and will also minimize logistical costs. All monitoring points will be equipped with Russian-made equipment.

In boreholes with a depth of about 25 m, a recording unit with 32 sensors is installed. The distance between the sensors ranges from 10 cm to 2 m. The data is sent online to the Permafrost Monitoring Center of AARI. The technology of arranging thermometric wells and data transmission has been tested on the territory of the Russian Far North and on the Svalbard archipelago. The density of the distribution of permafrost observation stations corresponds to the recommendations of the World Meteorological Organization.