Researchers evaluated the current network of hydrometeorological observation across the permafrost. They wanted to find out how to improve statistical approaches for modelling engineering design and hydrological impact from melting permafrost such as increased flooding.
They reviewed the distribution of ground temperature stations and hydrological gauges that currently measure streamflow discharge, where permafrost is covering over 20% of the territory (e.g. Chukotka, Yakutsk, Kolyma). They found insufficient stations to cover the larger areas and varied quality of data. Whilst the network density has increased, the number of hydrological gauges with discharge measurements has decreased, mainly due to human populations decreasing in the northern regions. Funding structures also changed after the Soviet Union ended.
There are standard mathematical and statistical models for calculating a series of streamflow observations. These include analysing climate change impact, but require further revision due to changes in streamflow characteristics from increased melt. They used a model called Hydrograph’ which has effectively been used to predict areas where there is greater uncertainty, due to lack of hydrological gauges for example.Simulations include volumes of precipitation and evapotranspiration, distance between meteorological stations, topological features.
They recommend establishing a federal hydrological network to analyse and predict flow caused by permafrost melt, discharge into river basins, reservoirs to estimate streamflow characteristics. This will help inform engineering designs for new and existing infrastructure. They estimate it will be less than 500 million RUB to set up.
This would be organised into catchment areas, potentially adding more research stations and advanced equipment to more effectively outline and model local characteristics for each area, providing more effective data quality. Enhanced coordination and longer term feasibility for research teams to collaborate across projects including capacity building to ensure continuity of researchers and development of hydrological processes that continue to improve certainty.
Makarieva O, Nesterova N, Haghighi AT, Ostashov A, Zemlyanskova A. Challenges of Hydrological Engineering Design in Degrading Permafrost Environment of Russia. Energies. 2022; 15(7):2649. https://doi.org/10.3390/en15072649