The Russian Geographical Society is taking an active part in the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. RGS representatives spoke about the role of scientific research in the industrial development of the Arctic region at the session "Science and Strategic Solutions in the Arctic", opened the Arctic Pavilion, organized excursions for SPIEF guests around the building of the Society’s Headquarters in St. Petersburg. Two important cooperation agreements were signed at the forum – with the Roscongress Foundation and the St. Petersburg Currency Exchange.
The main topic of the session "Science and Strategic Solutions in the Arctic" was environmental and business risks associated with the construction and operation of industrial facilities in high latitudes, as well as the role of geophysical, hydrological, and environmental research in finding the balance between the preservation of fragile northern ecosystems and the economic development of the region.
Over the past decade, large-scale projects aimed at the development of the Arctic have been implemented with the direct participation of the Russian Geographical Society. The RGS conducts research on geophysical and hydrological processes in Arctic ecosystems, monitors the state of the environment, cleans the territory from man-made pollution, and also acts as a link between academic institutions and organizations that carry out economic activities in the strategically important and ecologically fragile region. The RGS ensures the balance of interests, the constant flow of data necessary to make the right decisions, which helps avoid the shutdown of large investment projects, loss of time and invested funds.
"It is extremely important to scale high-latitude scientific research, in the organization of which the RGS and the Association of Polar Explorers play a significant role. A new impetus to these studies will be given by the commissioning of the ice-resistant self-propelled vessel ‘Severny Polyus’ (eng. ‘North Pole’) this year,” First Vice-President of the Russian Geographical Society and President of the Association of Polar Explorers Artur Chilingarov.
The Arctic zone of Russia is developing rapidly today: new oil and gas fields are being developed, projects in the field of transport and logistics are being implemented. At the same time, it is important to take into account that the Arctic is a dynamically changing ecosystem, which needs to be handled very carefully. Fundamental and applied scientific research will help to avoid environmental disasters in the future and solve social and economic problems for the development of the region. Igor Ivachev, director of Zubov State Oceanographic Institute, emphasized the high degree of risks of working in the Arctic zone on the example of specific projects commissioned by business.
“We work in all seas of Russia, and the Arctic seas are traditionally difficult, with the most severe hydrometeorological conditions. Without a marine hindcast system and constant monitoring, it is impossible to build a predictive model of optimal use of, say, the Northern Sea Route, on which the well-being of many businesses depends. We have accumulated invaluable experience of continuous research, synchronizing with the Russian Geographical Society’s expeditions – we conducted it on Franz Josef Land, Iturup, just returned from Russky Island," said Ivachev.
Taisiya Shepitko, director of the Institute of Track, Construction and Structures of the Russian University of Transport, told during the session how important it was to continue scientific support for the design, construction, and operation of transport infrastructure facilities that had already been constructed.
“A comprehensive innovative approach is needed in the community of science, business, production, and regional authorities. For example, during four expeditions in 2019-2021, together with the Russian Geographical Society, we set up a geomonitoring network that allows us to monitor the condition of soils throughout the Northern Latitudinal Railway – the railway line that is planned to reach Norilsk and Dudinka. This is a counterpart to the Northern Sea Route – together they create a reliable transport system," said Shepitko.
The importance of scientific research continuity from the perspective of monitoring and staff training was noted by Mikhail Grigoriev, deputy director for science at Melnikov Permafrost Institute.
“I’m grateful that during your expeditions – complex, expensive, using helicopters and Navy vessels – we have the opportunity to turn young scientists into professional researchers,” Grigoriev said, addressing the representatives of the Russian Geographical Society.
Vladimir Minligareev, deputy director for science at the Fedorov Institute of Applied Geophysics, pointed out the need to monitor the upper geosphere.
“Space weather and changes in the geomagnetic pole of the Earth – it is moving towards Taimyr – affect the state of the Arctic more strongly than human activity. It is all the more important to monitor solar activity ahead of its expected peak in 2025. There are many examples in the history of the 20th century when an increase in activity disabled complex devices and led to the paralysis of entire industries. During the expedition with the RGS in April 2020, we managed to make a world discovery – to determine the exact position of the Earth's South Magnetic Pole. With this groundwork, we continue research in the Russian Arctic," said Minligareev.
Alexey Sobisevich, deputy director for science, chief researcher at the Schmidt Institute of Physics of the Earth, stressed the importance of geophysical monitoring.
“The situation needs dynamic monitoring. For example, recently, during a joint expedition with the Russian Geographical Society to the Arctic archipelagos on the tiny island of Belukha near the coast of Taimyr, new seismic activity was detected. The network of seismological observation stations is able to monitor areas of increased activity in advance and prevent risks," he noted.
Executive Director of the Institute of Arctic Technologies of the MIPT Yuri Vasiliev spoke about plans to build the world's first autonomous scientific and educational complex on hydrogen energy "Snowflake". One of the key goals of this project is to demonstrate the capabilities of Arctic hydrogen energy. Its second task is to establish interaction between industry and applied science. The project was previously presented to the President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.
“’Snowflake’ is a group of platforms for launching a series of new technologies,” Vasiliev explained.
A scientific session, moderated by the author and producer of the film "Arctic. See You Tomorrow" Valdis Pelsh, opened the business program of the stand "Arctic: Territory of Dialogue". It will be held until June 18 inclusive.
The program includes three events from the main events plan of the Russian Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. The conference on the development of telecommunications and digitalization in the Arctic will discuss the introduction of advanced technologies in the region, the use of telemedicine, and unmanned transport. A special discussion is devoted to the development of creative industries in the northern territories. Improving ship repair services in the Arctic and increasing the number of high ice class vessels are included in the list of topics of the workshop on shipbuilding and ship repair in the Arctic.
One of the most important outcomes of the forum was the signing on June 16 of cooperation agreements between the Russian Geographical Society and the St. Petersburg Currency Exchange and the Roscongress Foundation. The agreements provide for long-term mutually beneficial projects: organization and holding of joint conferences, contests, festivals, exhibitions, educational programs, media and information campaigns, other events, including international ones, in the field of environmental protection, protection of rare and endangered species of animals, study, conservation and development of natural potential, ensuring environmental safety, prevention of negative impact on the environment.
The texts of the documents were signed by Vice-President of the RGS, Executive Director Artyom Manukyan, Director of the Roscongress Foundation Alexander Stuglev, and Manager of the St. Petersburg Currency Exchange Boris Yaryshevsky.
The Scientific Archive of the Russian Geographical Society has prepared for the participants and guests of the anniversary SPIEF an exhibition of unique documents telling about the role of the Russian Geographical Society in polar research of the late 19th to early 20th century. There will also be sightseeing tours of the RGS Headquarters building in St. Petersburg.