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Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

 Федеральный исследовательский центр «Красноярский научный центр Сибирского отделения Российской академии наук»

Federal Research Center 
"Krasnoyarsk Science Center of the Siberian
Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences"

Agricultural area in Siberia will expand due to climate change

13 December 2019 г.

Земледельческая территория в Сибири расширится из-за изменения климата
Scientists at the Institute of Agriculture of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS have figured out what will happen to the soil and land resources of Siberia under the influence of climate change. An increase in average annual temperature and precipitation will shift natural zones to the north and change the structure of the soil cover of the area. These changes open prospects for more active use of Siberian land in agricultural production. The results of the study are presented in the proceedings of the conference "IOP Conference Series: Earth and Environmental Science"

Soil is one of the most consumed environmental resources. It is responsible for the suitability of the area for human habitation, construction, farming, and other types of economic activity in many respects. Moreover, the formation and properties of the soil are largely determined by climatic conditions.

Krasnoyarsk scientists analyzed the variability of the average annual temperature and precipitation over the past hundred years and worked out how climate change could affect the transformation of natural zones and soils in Siberia. The researchers found out that due to an increase in temperature and precipitation, a shift in the boundaries of natural zones could already be observed. These shifts, in turn, lead to the transformation of the properties of soils located in these areas.

Scientists note that changes in climatic conditions in Siberia occur at a faster rate than in Russia or on the planet as a whole. While on average in Russia over a hundred years the temperature increased by 1.26 ° C, within the Krasnoyarsk Region this value amounts to 1.44 ° C. The most intense warming is observed in the tundra and forest-tundra. Moreover, the annual amount of precipitation on average throughout the region increased by 8.2 millimeters. If this trend continues, then by 2050 the average annual air temperature will increase by additional 0.5 ° C, and the amount of precipitation will increase by 28 millimeters.

The observed warming will push the boundaries of all natural zones to the north. For example, the forest-tundra will move more than a hundred kilometers by 2050. All this will lead to the transformation of soils and land resources. Due to the thawing of permafrost in the northern part, waterlogging in the tundra and taiga zone will occur. At the same time, the process of accumulation of humus, the main source of nutrients in the soil, will be intensified in the forest-steppe. Due to this, the value of the northern part of the agricultural zone will increase significantly for the agricultural production.

In the southern taiga, sod-podzolic soils will keep dominance. However, with further advancement of the taiga treeline to the north, these soils will transform into grey forest soils. Due to the retreat of permafrost and loss of its shielding role which contributes to water retention, swamps in the southern zone will dry out and the peat mass will degrade. An increase in the area of steppes is also anticipated, to result in a decrease in humus reserves in soils, drying out of the land and favorable conditions for widespread wind erosion of the soil. The southern treeline will move northward.

“These changes, on the one hand, can have a positive effect on the agricultural sector of the region, where there is not enough heat and moisture. In the changing climate, the length of the growing season will increase, opening up prospects for growing heat-loving crops in the north of the agricultural zone of Siberia - early ripening varieties of corn, lentils, and soybeans. However, one should bear in mind that at the same time in the south of Siberia, due to an increase in temperature and uneven precipitation, the soils will dry out, to lead to their degradation. Additional irrigation and more active use of mineral fertilizers will be required. The forecasts presented indicate the necessity of direct investments into the north. This is important for the stable development of the agricultural industry as a whole, ” says Alexander Shpedt, Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, Deputy Director for Science at the Institute of Agriculture of the Krasnoyarsk Science Center SB RAS.