On thin ice
Russia. Roughly two thirds of the Arctic belong to the world’s largest country. Siberia alone has the size of Australia. An enormous chunk of cold land framed by icy seas. Large areas of Northern Russia used to be no-go zones for decades. For the first time, scientists from all over the world are beginning to explore this huge area and what they find is alarming. Gigantic canyons, “megaslumps”, are opening up where there used to be endless taiga forest. Enormous layers of permafrost are thawing out and revealing remains of the ancient Siberian megafauna. Hundreds of scary looking holes are blasting off from the deep exhaling methane, which has 80 times stronger greenhouse effects than carbon dioxide. Rivers loose water and large dunes in dry riverbeds make parts of Central Siberia look like the Sahara. Forest fires are rushing over the taiga every year and the once ice-locked Northeast Passage becomes navigable. The destiny of many wildlife populations is at stake. Wild reindeer change their annually migration. Desperate for food, polar bears are rambling across villages and even cities. The reproduction rate of the rare Arctic ivory gull is decreasing.