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Thursday, 17 June 2021 08:39

Current unresolved ecological challenges of the Arctic and their consequences

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It was only in the XXI century, after the industrial boom of the XX century, when humanity extracted and used natural resources, without thinking about the impact of these actions on the environment, which, of course, affects the future of mankind, that they began to attach importance to environmental challenges. Humanity has to cope with many consequences of unresolved environmental problems today, not only at the regional level, but also at the global level.

Global warming

Of course, first of all we will consider the problem of global warming, because this problem has long gone beyond certain regions and has become one of the most acute global problems of mankind, which is a challenge not even of the near future, but of today.

The melting of ice affects the global system of regulation of both water and air flows. So, in dynamics we see the rise in the level of the world ocean, which indicates changes in currents and temperature regimes. In the long term, this will change the ecology of all reservoirs, both at the level of flora and fauna. In addition, it is likely that the land area will decrease and some areas of human habitation will be flooded. A striking example is Venice, scientists predict its flooding within 50-70 years, and this example is far from the only one.

There is also a sharp change in the temperature of the Arctic water due to a reduction in the area of reflection of sunlight by water, which has a detrimental effect on fish species that are accustomed to colder conditions. As a result, whole families go to the depths in search of comfortable conditions, thereby depriving birds and animals of food.

Thus, we see a whole range of consequences of global warming in the Arctic: flooding of some inhabited land areas, increased migration of both human and fauna, animal extinction, increased frequency of extreme weather events, etc. It is important to understand that it is impossible to stop the warming process completely, but humanity is able to neutralize its consequences.

Reduction of biodiversity

Related to the previously considered environmental challenge of the Arctic is the problem of the extinction of entire populations of animals, birds and fish.

As mentioned earlier, a sharp change in climate and, consequently, habitat conditions negatively affect the state of the animal world, but poaching plays a significant role in the process.

Illegal fishing leads to the disappearance of rare species of fish, which are still filled with northern waters. Animals suffer at the hands of hunters for valuable fur, and birds suffer because of hunters and shipping. According to approximate calculations, the number of feathered breeds in the Arctic is about 4 times higher than the number of animals. This is due to the ability of birds to move through the air and not be tied to a specific land object. However, the most important problem for them is shipping. Due to the lack of accounting for the so-called bird markets and difficult conditions in the form of ice, many ship routes destroy nesting sites. This leads to the death of the chicks.

The peculiarity of this environmental challenge is that it must be resolved within a few years, otherwise it may be too late. This is confirmed by the irrevocable disappearance of a number of species of birds, fish and animals as a result of frequent and unregulated hunting over the past two centuries. Many species are already on the verge of extinction, restoring the population seems to be an extremely long and difficult process, which, unfortunately, is not always doomed to success.

Pollution of soil, water and atmosphere

The process of ice melting described above, in addition to changes in the aquatic environment, brings a deterioration in the balance of the atmosphere. As a result of the processes, a number of volatile substances are released, which worsen the quality of the ozone layer and increase the temperature of the atmosphere.

The extraction of petroleum products is carried out year-round. However, the process is not environmentally friendly. Periodically, various spills of products occur in volume, which adversely affect the entire ecology of nearby territories. Cleaning from contaminants of this nature is possible with the help of special cleaning equipment. However, their work is effective in the first few hours after the accident, as the low temperature turns oil products into a viscous substance, which becomes an impossible task to remove. And the delivery of the devices to the site can be complicated by severe weather conditions and icebergs. Because of this, environmental problems in the Arctic deserts are becoming more and more neglected every year.

Long-term development of natural resources has led to the fact that soil and groundwater pollution begins to reach the maximum permissible norm. In some areas of the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District and Nenets Autonomous District, environmental inspections revealed an excess of a level safe for humans by several dozen times in some indicators. This indicates the inadmissibility of further use of land in this way.

The ecological crisis situation has developed in the Western Kola, Central Kola, Norilsk districts, critical - in Arkhangelsk, Timan-Pechora, Novozemelsky, Vorkuta, tense – in the Western and Eastern Chukchi, as well as in the Yano-Indigirsky (district P. Deputy) district. The situation in the Bilibinsk and Kola impact areas can currently be characterized as conditionally-potentially-acute, but with probable accidents of various scales at nuclear power plants, it can instantly become catastrophic.

In impact areas, risks and threats to public health are significantly increasing. Many pollutants are non-toxic, but resistant to environmental impacts. They are especially dangerous for the health of the indigenous population of the Arctic, for most of which the main food products are deer meat, meat and fat of marine animals, fish. A number of diseases (oncological, allergic, blood system damage, congenital pathology) are associated with the unfavorable ecological condition of the territories.

Offshore developments

The extraction of petroleum products forces people to look for new deposits of natural resources. Seismically unsafe Arctic shelves are among the places for mining.

Research on this issue has revealed the possibility of mining, but the risks in this process reach a maximum. There are several reasons: soil instability; multi-meter glaciated rocks; dangerous transportation and difficulties with the delivery of equipment and people. All this leads to spills and shipwrecks of oil companies.

As a result, the amount and volume of pollution in the Arctic is only increasing. The earthquake-prone situation is worsened by constant drilling processes, which only increases the likelihood of earthquakes and landslides. The destruction of such a thick layer of glaciation leads to an acceleration of the melting process.

There are a number of other factors that worsen the situation.

Firstly, the proximity of nuclear industry facilities. The Kola NPP and several large facilities for the repair of nuclear submarines and ships are potentially dangerous radiation objects. Given the small base area, it is difficult to imagine the consequences in the event of at least a small breakdown at one of the enterprises.

Secondly, the territory of the Arctic has long been a worldwide dump of various hazardous substances. Their disposal in these territories is convenient for a small number of inhabitants. However, due to the melting of the ice, some substances have already begun to enter the water of the World Ocean. And as the process continues, the further situation will worsen even more.

Thirdly, the Arctic is a climate-forming region, that is, even a small change in both water and air quality carries a number of irreparable consequences for the entire planet. Not so long ago, scientists discovered that during the melting process, a special gas is released that destroys the atmosphere. And a special air circulation scheme initiates the accumulation of dangerous impurities from all over the planet. This means that environmental problems in the Arctic will only get worse.

Humanity needs to soberly understand that all these challenges of the Arctic region are not something far away that will not affect our lives, it is a catastrophe for the planet, flora, fauna, society and each of us, we need to work comprehensively with this problem at all levels: personal, regional, federal and global.


1. Sedova N.B., Kochemasova E.Yu. Environmental problems of the Arctic and their socio-economic consequences // ECO. 2017. No. 5 (515).

2. Diagnostic analysis of the state of the environment of the Arctic zone of the Russian Federation (extended summary) / Editor B. A. Morgunov. Gordeev V. V., Danilov A. I., Evseev A.V., Kochemasov Yu. V. et al. - M.: Scientific World, 2011. - 200 p.

3. Strategic Action Program for Environmental Protection of the Arctic Zone of the Russian Federation. Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, 2009

4. Hot spots of the North of Russia. Coastal marine impact areas of the Russian Arctic. The UNEP/GEF PROJECT Russian Federation - Support for the National Action Plan for the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment. Materials of the RPOI Publishing House, 2008.

5. Environmental problems of the Arctic and ways to solve them [Electronic resource]

URL: https://musorniy.ru/ekologicheskie-problemy-arktiki-i-puti-ih-resheniya/#i (accessed: 06/17/2021)

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