The cost of permafrost to Russian economy

Authors: Dmitry Streletskiy*, George Washington University, Luis Suter, The George Washington University, Nikolay Shiklomanov, The George Washington University
Topics: Cryosphere, Polar Regions, Russia
Keywords: permafrost, economy, arctic, Russia, climate change
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: Stones Throw 1 - Granite, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Four million people and 17% of Russian fixed assets are located in permafrost-affected regions. Changing climatic conditions are especially pronounced in regions on permafrost and may have disproportionally high consequences to regional and federal budgets. This study examines the extent to which infrastructure and housing are affected by permafrost in Russia and estimates the costs of projected permafrost degradation. Two major risks associated with permafrost degradation are loss of permafrost bearing capacity and ground subsidence. The former determines the ability to support foundations of buildings and structures and is a vital characteristic of sustainability of the economic centers, while the latter impacts the ability of critical infrastructure (roads, railroads) to provide transportation and support accessibility of remote population and economic centers on permafrost. Ensemble of climate projections under RCP8.5 scenario and permafrost-geotechnical model were used to evaluate critical changes in engineering properties of permafrost expected by the mid-21 century for nine Russian administrative regions. Such changes are likely to result in infrastructure damage. The economic data and model were used to determine the potential cost of replacement of damaged infrastructure. According to our estimates, the critical climatic-induced permafrost changes will affect 20% of buildings and infrastructure assets with a combined cost 85 bil USD and more than half of the residential real estate with the total worth of 21 bln USD by the mid-21st century in Russia. The presentation will discuss the variability of regional impacts of permafrost degradation and the ability of state budgets to address the projected changes.

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