Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Western scientists have lost access to information from Russian research stations in the Arctic, leaving a critical gap in the data from the rapidly warming region.
A new analysis investigated the effect of losing this data. For the study, scientists looked at 60 field stations belonging to an Arctic research network, including 17 Russian stations that were barred from the network after war broke out.
These 60 stations tend to be situated in warmer, wetter areas, meaning that, even before the war, the data gathered had a warm, wet bias. The loss of data from Russian outposts in colder, drier regions has worsened this bias, scientists reported in Nature Climate Change.
The shift in the baseline data is “of the same magnitude as the anticipated climate change shifts by the end of the century,” authors wrote. As a result, scientists’ ability to monitor changes in the Arctic “may be severely limited over the foreseeable future.”
The loss of data in the Arctic, which is warming four times faster than other regions, will make it harder to study the impact of climate change worldwide. Arctic forest fires and melting permafrost are unleashing huge sums of heat-trapping gases, while melting ice is raising sea levels, the impact of which can be seen across the globe.
To close the data gap, scientists called on the international community “to strive for establishing and improving a research infrastructure and standardized monitoring programmes representative of the entire Arctic.”
ALSO ON YALE E360
How Tensions With Russia Are Jeopardizing Key Arctic Research