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Arctic research importance highlighted by Oslo-based environmental NGO

The Bellona Foundation is an Oslo-based environmental organization founded in 1986 which has international offices in Brussels and the northern Russian cities of Saint Petersburg and Murmansk, issues a statement in which indicates the importance of exploring the Arctic in the context of global warming.

Much of Siberia had high temperatures this year that were beyond unseasonably warm. From January through May, the average temperature in north-central Siberia has been about 8 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) above average, according to the climate science non-profit Berkeley Earth.

The World Meteorological Organization also said that it’s looking to verify the temperature reading, which would be unprecedented for the region north of the Arctic Circle. “The scientific research plan called Big Norilsk Expedition is a logical and correct step” the group said in a statement.

A group of scientists from Russia’s Academy of Sciences has embarked on a comprehensive study of the ecosystems and environment of the Arctic in an expedition to the Taymyr Peninsula at the invitation of Russian mining giant Nornickel. As part of its expedition, the group is tasked with developing proposals and recommendations on the best environmentally-friendly practices and solutions for industrial companies operating in the Arctic.
Bellona Foundation emphasized the weak expert opinions of some Russian ecologists. Previously, many different activists have come forward with differing views on the May situation in the Russian Arctic city of Norilsk.

A state of emergency was declared in Norilsk as a result of permafrost thawing. Several tons of diesel fuel leaked from the fuel tank at the TPP of Norilsk Energy Company No. 3 and leaked into the neighbouring river on May 29.

“Many colleagues have not recovered from “alarmism”, emphasizing their “independence” and the desire for instant unprofessional PR” the organization said in a statement.

The Oslo-based environmental organization called for participation in the study of the Arctic.

Over the course of five months (July — November 2020), the group of scientists will have to assess the magnitude of changes that have taken place in the Arctic over recent years.

The objective behind the expedition transcends the need to find viable, sustainable environmental solutions to solve local problems — the group’s findings are expected to form the basis of new principles of management in Russia’s Arctic. The scientists will take into account both the experience of other countries engaged in resource extraction in polar latitudes and domestic developments.

Bellona Foundation

The group comprises specialists in various fields, from geology to botany, petrochemistry to economic forecasting, all of whom have previous field experience and were recommended for this research by the heads of 14 academic and scientific institutions.

The route of the Great Norilsk expedition will cover the basins of the Taymyr rivers of Pyasina, Norilka, and Ambarnaya (Ambarka), as well as Lake Pyasino and Lake Lama.

“Such expeditions and in-depth studies beyond the Arctic Circle have not been carried out in several decades. From the very moment of its founding, the Siberian Branch of Russia’s Academy of Sciences has espoused the principles of multidisciplinary research and close cooperation with industry. Today, we are certain that only by combining the competencies of the leading institutions in Siberia can we count on an effective result that will truly meet the needs of Russian companies operating in this region,” said the expedition’s scientific director Valentin Parmon, Chairman of the Siberian branch of Russia’s Academy of Sciences. “The detailed study will produce data concerning four main areas: the condition of water and bottom sediments, soil conditions, the state of biodiversity, and engineering and geocryological (i.e. permafrost) conditions. This will allow us to gain a holistic picture of both anthropogenic and natural changes in order to develop both specific recommendations and a general management concept for the Arctic under changing conditions.”

“Today, we clearly understand that without an in-depth study of and reliable scientific knowledge about the Arctic, there can be no plans for the future,” said Nornickel CEO Vladimir Potanin at the start of this research. “For the implementation of large-scale plans for the Arctic’s development, it is important to know what geological and biochemical processes were the result of both natural and anthropogenic changes. Nornickel, as the region’s leading industrial developer, is aware of its responsibilities and intends to revise its existing approach to industrial ecology based on the results of the Great Norilsk expedition.”

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