ArticlePDF Available

Abstract and Figures

One of the most significant climate change impacts on arctic urban landscapes is the warming and degradation of permafrost, which negatively affects the structural integrity of infrastructure. We estimate potential changes in stability of Russian urban infrastructure built on permafrost in response to the projected climatic changes provided by six preselected General Circulation Models (GCMs) participated in the most recent Climate Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP5). The analysis was conducted for the entire extent of the Russian permafrost-affected area. According to our analysis a significant (at least 25%) climate-induced reduction in the urban infrastructure stability throughout the Russian permafrost region should be expected by the mid-21st century. However, the high uncertainty, resulting from the GCM-produced climate projections, prohibits definitive conclusion about the rate and magnitude of potential climate impacts on permafrost infrastructure. Results presented in this paper can serve as guidelines for developing adequate adaptation and mitigation strategy for Russian northern cities.
Content may be subject to copyright.
ABSTRACT.One of the most significant climate change impacts on arctic urban landscapes
is the warming and degradation of permafrost, which negatively affects the structural
integrity of infrastructure. We estimate potential changes in stability of Russian urban
infrastructure built on permafrost in response to the projected climatic changes provided
by six preselected General Circulation Models (GCMs) participated in the most recent Cli-
mate Model Inter-comparison Project (CMIP5). The analysis was conducted for the entire
extent of the Russian permafrost-affected area. According to our analysis a significant (at
least 25%) climate-induced reduction in the urban infrastructure stability throughout the
Russian permafrost region should be expected by the mid-21st century. However, the high
uncertainty, resulting from the GCM-produced climate projections, prohibits definitive
conclusion about the rate and magnitude of potential climate impacts on permafrost
infrastructure. Results presented in this paper can serve as guidelines for developing ade-
quate adaptation and mitigation strategy for Russian northern cities. Keywords: Climate
Change, Permafrost Infrastructure, Russian Arctic Cities.
Planned socio-economic development during the Soviet period promoted
migration into the Arctic and work force consolidation in urbanized settle-
ments to support mineral resources extraction and transportation industries.
These policies have resulted in very high level of urbanization in the Soviet
Arctic. Major urban centers were developed to support coal (e.g. Vorkuta), gas
(e.g. Nadym, Salehard, Novyy Urengoi), oil (e.g. Surgut, Nefteyugansk), ore
mining and smelting (e.g Norilsk) industries and Northern Sea Route and river
transportation (e.g Igarka, Dudinka, Dickson, Pevek). Despite the mass migra-
tion from the northern regions during the 1990s, following the collapse of the
Soviet Union and the diminishing government support, the Russian Arctic
*This research was supported by U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) grants PLR-1231294, PLR-1304555,
ICER-1558389 to the George Washington University and by the Russian Science Foundation (RSF) grant
14-17-00037 to the State Hydrological Institute, Russia. Opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations
expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF or RSF. We
are grateful to three anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments and suggestions to improve the
[] are affiliated with The George Washington University, Department of
Geography, Washington, DC, USA. V. A. KOKOREV is affiliated with State Hydrological Institute,
St. Petersburg, Russia; []. D. A. STRELETSKIY is also affiliated with Earth
Cryosphere Institute SB RAS, Tyumen, Russia. N. I. SHIKLOMANOV is also affiliated with Tyumen
State Oil and Gas University, Tyumen, Russia.
Geographical Review 118
DOI: 10.1111/gere.12214
Copyright ©2016 by the American Geographical Society of New York
population remains predominantly urban. In five Russian administrative
regions bordering the Arctic Ocean 66 to 82% (depending on region) of the
total population lives in Soviet-era urban communities (Heleniak 2014).
Although some towns and centers have experienced a drastic reduction in pop-
ulation, others have continued to grow due to either an increase in develop-
ment of extraction industries or the migration from collapsing communities
(Heleniak 2010).
The political, economic and demographic changes in the Russian Arctic over
the second half of the 20th century have coincided with climatic changes. Since
the 1980s the northern regions of Russia have experienced unprecedented cli-
mate-induced environmental changes (e.g. IPCC 2014; RosHYDROMET 2014).
Changes in natural systems impact humans with direct, immediate implications
for land use, the economy, subsistence, and social life. Although some impacts of
Arctic climate changes can be economically beneficial (e.g. decrease in climate
severity and associated heating costs, longer navigation season), other changes
negatively affect the natural environment, traditional and nontraditional sectors
of the economy, and socioeconomic regional conditions (e.g. Bartsch et al. 2010;
Ford 2009; Larsen et al. 2008; Shikomanov and Streletskiy 2013).
One of the most significant impacts of climatic changes for Russian northern
communities is associated with perennially frozen ground, or permafrost, which
underlines approximately 66% of the Russian territory (Figure 1A). The presence
and dynamic nature of permafrost constitutes a distinctive engineering environ-
ment. The construction of buildings in permafrost regions is challenging and can
lead to profound problems that reverberate into the social and economic spheres
(e.g. Nelson et al. 2002; Nelson 2003). For example, heated structures, erected
directly on the surface over ice-rich permafrost, increase the flow of heat to the
subsurface and induce localized differential subsidence and settling. A common
method for avoiding problems related to thaw settlement is to elevate building
foundations by constructing them on wooden, metal, or concrete piles embedded
in the underlying frozen substrate (Figure 1B). Such “pile foundations” provide a
layer of air, which effectively decouples the heat generated by the structure from
the permafrost-affected ground. More than 75% of the buildings in Russian per-
mafrost regions are constructed on pile foundations.
The ability of permafrost to support pile foundations is traditionally evalu-
ated by assessing its bearing capacity, which is defined as the maximum stress
or load that can be applied to a single pile frozen into the permafrost without
its failure or settlement (Tsitovich 1975). The bearing capacity depends on the
pile design as well as thermal regime and mechanical properties of the per-
mafrost-affected ground. While mechanical properties of soils do not change
significantly over the lifespan of the common infrastructure, the parameters
determining the thermal state of permafrost (e.g. permafrost temperature,
thickness of the annually-thawed or “active” layer) can be altered by changes in
energy and water balances at the ground surface. A majority of such changes
are associated with anthropogenic modifications to the ground surface (e.g.
removal of natural covers, artificial redistribution of snow, changes in water
drainage). While anthropogenic factors have a pronounced effect on thermal
and engineering properties of permafrost, such disturbances are anticipated and
frequently accounted for in proper engineering designs.
Permafrost warming as a result of changing climatic conditions is well doc-
umented for many Russian regions (Romanovsky et al. 2010; Drozdov et al.
2015; Streletskiy et al. 2015). Climate- induced permafrost changes, however,
were usually not fully considered in engineering practices. For example, Soviet
(and Russian) Construction Norms and Regulations (e.g. CNR 1990) required
the use of decadal climatic statistics (e.g. air temperature and precipitation) for
assessing the state and potential variability of thermal permafrost parameters
for bearing capacity estimates. Potential extremes and uncertainties in climatic
conditions were accounted for during the engineering design stage by
FIG.1—(A) Permafrost distribution in Russia, based on Circum-Arctic Map of Permafrost
and Ground-Ice Conditions, Version 2(Brown et al., 2002) and locations of four cities discussed
in this paper. Southern boundary of the discontinuous permafrost zone outlines the spatial
domain of this study. (B) Standard 0.35m×0.35m×10m concrete piles supporting foundation
of 1970s five-store residential building in Yakutsk. (C) Collapse of the five-store mid 1960s resi-
dential building in Norilsk attributable to the loss of foundation bearing capacity. (C) Panoramic
view of the downtown city of Anadyr. Typical to all Russian arctic cities, urban infrastructure
consists almost exclusively of 1960-1970s standard design five to nine story buildings on concrete
pile foundations. (All photos by N. Shiklomanov)
decreasing bearing capacity values obtained using decadal climatic normals by a
so-called “safety coefficient.” While safety coefficients in North America range
from 2.5to 3, in Soviet Russia they were frequently as small as 1.05 and rarely
exceeded 1.56 (Shur and Goering 2009). This means that for pile foundations
with 1.05 safety coefficient, a decrease in bearing capacity by 5% can potentially
cause deformation and possible collapse of the structure.
There are numerous reports indicating an increase in urban infrastructure
damage throughout Russian permafrost regions over the last two decades (e.g.
Anisimov et al. 2010; Grebenets, et al. 2012; Streletskiy et al. 2012a; Streletskiy
et al. 2014; Khrustalev and Davidova 2007; Khrustalev et al. 2011 and Figure 1C).
In many instances it is difficult to differentiate between the effects of climate-
induced permafrost changes and socioeconomic factors such as age, lack of main-
tenance, or design/construction flaws that may affect a structure on permafrost.
However, while human-induced factors may or may not have contributed locally,
climate change appears to be responsible for the broad patterns of the reported
changes in infrastructure stability (Khrustalev et al. 2011; Streletskiy et al. 2012a;
Anisimov and Streletskiy 2015). In this paper we use climate fields obtained from
the last generation coupled General Circulation Models (GCMs) within the
framework of permafrost engineering modeling to evaluate the potential impacts
of the projected climate- changes on the stability of Russian urban infrastructure
built on permafrost.
Within the framework of this study we have utilized a quantitative approach
for assessing climate change impacts on the stability of pile foundations (Koni-
chev at al. 2011; Streletskiy et al. 2012 a, b). The approach is based on Russian
methodology for evaluating bearing capacity, or the maximum stress, which
can be exerted on the pile embedded into the permafrost. Two major types of
stress constitute the bearing capacity: normal stress acts on the bottom of the
pile in contact with the permafrost; and shear stress on the sides of the pile
that come in contact with the frozen soil (Andersland and Ladanyi 2004).
These stresses in turn depend on the cohesion of the frozen ground and the
strength of the freezing bond between the pile and permafrost, which are func-
tions of permafrost temperature. The Active-Layer Thickness (ALT) determines
the surface area of the pile in contact with permafrost. As a result, the increase
in permafrost temperature and/or thickness of the active layer will lead to
decrease in shear and normal stresses and to reduction in bearing capacity. For-
mulations, obtained from Russian engineering literature (e.g. CNR 1990) are
used to establish relations between parameters of the ground thermal regime
(permafrost temperature, ALT) with stresses and bearing capacity.
Since piles can vary greatly in size, shape, and material depending on the type
of infrastructure and engineering design, the selection of appropriate, site-speci-
fic parametrizations is required for assessing changes in bearing capacity for any
particular structure and/or pile. This constitutes a local engineering problem,
which is beyond the scope of this study that assesses and compares potential cli-
mate-induced changes in adfreeze bond strength of pile foundations with per-
mafrost across the vast and diverse permafrost regions of Russia. To address this
goal, we have used parametrizations for a generalized concrete 10mx0.35mx
0.35m “standard pile.” Illustration of these piles is provided in Figure 1B. Such
piles are most commonly used for standard-design 5-9story buildings, which
constitute the majority of urban housing in the Russian Arctic (Figure 1C). The
relative changes in bearing capacity of a standard pile can be calculated as a con-
tinuous geographical field and used as a proxy for geographical impact assess-
ment of climate-induced permafrost changes on human infrastructure. The
specific details on model formulation are provided in Streletskiy et al. (2012 a,b).
A spatial equilibrium permafrost model based on an analytical solution to
the heat conduction problem in porous materials with phase change originally
formulated by Kudryavtsev et al. (1974) was used to represent spatial and tem-
poral changes in permafrost parameters (Mean Annual Ground Temperature
(MAGT) and Active-Layer Thickness (ALT)). The model is driven by daily or
monthly climate data (temperature, precipitation) and uses characteristics of
surface (vegetation, snow) and subsurface (organic and mineral soil) properties
to estimate permafrost MAGT and ALT. Numerous studies indicate that the
model is capable of providing estimates consistent with observations and is
applicable to different spatial scales (e.g. Anisimov et al. 1997; Shiklomanov and
Nelson 1999; Sazonova and Romanovsky 2003; Streletskiy et al., 2012 c). Specific
details on the latest equilibrium permafrost model formulations used in this
study and its applicability for assessing GCM-projected climate-induced
changes in permafrost conditions is provided in Streletskiy et al. (2012 c).
The accuracy of model is highly dependent on the correct representation of
surface and subsurface properties (e.g. Shiklomanov et al. 2007). Due to the
high uncertainty related to the characterization of localized conditions at broad
geographic scale, considered in this study, all edaphic parameters were set to
constant values for the entire area. We have used parametrizations, characteris-
tic of sandy loam soils overlayed by a 0.05 m thick organic layer and 0.1m
thick live moss cover. While this approach does not realistically represent the
entire permafrost area of Russia, it does allow us to isolate potential effects of
climatic changes on the stability of urban infrastructure.
The engineering and permafrost modeling approach described above, was suc-
cessfully applied for assessing changes in infrastructure stability attributable to cli-
matic changes observed over 1960s-2000s periods at local (individual settlements
on permafrost) and regional (West Siberia) scales (Streletskiy et al. 2012 a, b). In
this study we are utilizing this methodology to forecast potential future changes
in bearing capacity for the entirety of the Russian permafrost region (Figure 1A).
One of the major problems associated with prognostic climate impact studies
is the large uncertainty in climatic projections. To address this problem, we have
used projections provided by six preselected CMIP5Global Circulation Models
(GCMs): 1) CanESM2(CanESM) - Canadian Earth Systems Model 2,2) CSIRO-
Mk-3.6(CSIRO) - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organiza-
tion Mark 3.6,3) HadGEM2-ES (HadGEM) Hadley Centre Global Environment
Model Version 2Earth System, 4) GFDL-CM3(GFDL) Geophysical Fluid
Dynamics Laboratory Climate Model Version 3,5) IPSL-CM5A-LR (IPSL) for
Institute Pierre Simon Laplace Climate Model 5ALow Resolution, and 6)
NorESM1-M (NorESM) Norwegian Earth System Model version 1-M. These
models were selected by Anisimov and Kokarev (2013) from 48 CMIP5GCM
models participated in IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC 2014) based on their
ability to simulate past climatic trends in Northern Eurasia. The selection
approach compared GCM-produced regional trends of near-surface temperature
and precipitation anomalies from the 1961-1990 climatic normal to observations
over 1949-1960 and 1976-2005 periods (Anisimov and Kokarev, 2013). The models
with the smallest deviations from observed trends in temperature and precipita-
tion anomalies for the North Eurasian region were selected. Since each GCM has
a different native resolution their outputs were rescaled to a common 1°Lat x
1°Long grid for comparative purposes. Only areas of Russia underlain by contin-
uous and discontinuous permafrost were considered for the analysis since the use
of pile foundations is unlikely in sporadic and island permafrost zones. The grid-
ded fields of daily near-surface air temperature and precipitations produced by
each of six GCMs over 1960-2100 period were used. The prognostic experiments
from (2006-2100) ran under the RCP8.5scenario, meaning that the radiative
forcing at the top of the troposphere will increase by 8.5W/m
by the year 2100.
RCP8.5represents the “worst case” climatic scenario (Riahi et al. 2011).
Following the Russian engineering practice of using decadal climate statis-
tics for bearing capacity estimates (e.g. CNR 1990), GCM-produced climatic
characteristics were averaged over five 10-year periods: past 1965-1975 (further
referred to as 1970); present 1995-2005 (2000); near-future 2015-2025 (2020);
mid-century 2045-2055 (2050); end-of-century 2090-2100 (2100). The per-
mafrost and engineering models forced by six GCM-produced climates were
used to evaluate the bearing capacities for each of the reference periods as
well as their changes relative to 1970 and 2000 base periods. The 1970 cli-
matic period was chosen since a majority of Russian urban infrastructure
was built around that time. For example, according to the Russian Housing
Authorities ( 63% of multifamily buildings in Norilsk, 53%in
Yakutsk, and 61% in Anadyr’ were constructed during 1960s and 1970s. To
assess potential stability of these relatively old structures, the percentage of
change in bearing capacity from 1970 to 2000,1970 to 2020, and 1970 to
2050 reference periods were calculated. The 2100 time period was not used
because it exceeds the 100 year lifespan of most Arctic infrastructure (e.g.
Anisimov et al. 2010). The 2000 period represents recent infrastructure, devel-
oped as part of accelerated exploration of natural resources in Russian
permafrost regions. To assess potential stability of modern structures the per-
centages of bearing capacity change from 2000 to 2020,2000 to 2050, and
2000 to 2100 reference periods were used.
The results obtained using six GCM-produced climates were averaged to
represent a model ensemble mean. Minimums and maximums in results were
mapped to visualize the effect of uncertainty in climate projections.
Numerous studies have indicated that the Russian Arctic is warming at approx-
imately 0.12°C per year rate which is significantly faster than the global average
(e.g. Anisimov et al. 2013; IPCC 2014; RosHYDROMET 2014). The mean annual
temperature anomaly reached 0.8°C in the last decade relative to the 1960-1990
reference period. According to the six-model ensemble selected for analysis, by
the middle of the 21st century the mean annual air temperature increase rela-
tive to same base period is expected to reach +4.1°C in Salekhard and Norilsk,
+3.7°C in Yakutsk and +4.0°C in Anadyr under the RCP8.5scenario. Maximum
changes are expected to occur in the fall and winter, with less warming during
the summer and spring seasons.
FIG.2—Statistics (Min, Max, Mean) of Mean Annual Air Temperature (MAAT) (A) and
Maximum Annual Snow Depth (MASD) (B) changes produced by an ensemble of six GCMs
under RCP8.5scenario. Changes are expressed as differences between averages for four decadal
periods and the 1965-1975 period. Each year represents decadal average of MAAT and MASD for
the following periods: 1970 for 1965 1975 period; 2000 for 1995-2005 period; 2020 for 2015-2025
period; 2050 for 2045-2055;2100 for 2090-2100 period.
Figure 2(A) shows statistics of mean annual near-surface air temperature
anomalies from the 1965-1975 mean, produced by the ensemble of six GCM
models for four decadal periods over Russian permafrost regions.
The increase in Mean Annual Air Temperature (MAAT) is evident across
the region. The ensemble mean indicates the MAAT increase by 4to 6°Cby
2050. The largest increases are expected in the northern part of the region.
While general trends are similar between most (minimum) and least (maxi-
mum) conservative climate change estimates, the magnitude of change varies
The high uncertainty in observed and modeled precipitations over Siberia is
well known (e.g., Anisimov and Ziltcova 2012; Groisman and Soja 2009; Grois-
man et al. 2013). Statistics (minimum, maximum, mean) of maximum annual
snow depth anomalies from the 1965-1975 mean, produced by the ensemble of
six GCM models for four decadal periods over Russian permafrost regions are
shown in Figure 2(B). Ensemble mean indicates an overall increasing snow
accumulation trend over much of the region. However, the snow depth esti-
mates derived from GCM-produced winter precipitation fields are very incon-
sistent in both, magnitude and direction of change as evident from maps
portraying minimum and maximum snow depth estimates for each decadal
To illustrate the uncertainty in model-specific projections, Mean Annual
Air Temperature (MAAT) and Maximum Annual Snow Depth (MASD)
anomalies from 1970 reference period produced by each of six GCMs are plot-
ted for the grid cell containing the city of Norilsk (Figure 3). When run in ret-
rospective mode, the models produce relatively consistent results for air
temperature (Figure 3A). The ensemble mean of MAAT for Norilsk shows
1.3°C temperature increase from 1970sto2000s, which is in agreement with
observations. HadGEM, IPSL, and NorESM were the best at reproducing the
observed temperatures. However, the magnitude of projected changes varies
drastically between models. GFDL consistently projects the highest temperature
increase while CSIRO the lowest. The difference in projections provided by
these two models is comparable with (and in some places exceeds) the increase
in temperature projected by the mean of six models ensemble (Figure 3A). The
estimates of snow depth vary greatly between individual models (Figure 3B).
For the same grid cell the model-projected changes can be a significant
decrease, no change, and a significant increase. For example for the grid cell
representing Norilsk, HadGEM projects up to 0.25 m decrease in maximum
snow depth, and IPSL up to 0.45 m increase, while GFDL and CSIRO models
indicate no significant changes by the end of the 21
century (Figure 3B).
Since the ground thermal regime is highly dependent on atmospheric tempera-
ture and thickness of snow cover, the inconsistencies in GCM-produced climate
fields lead to high uncertainties in projected change of permafrost parameters:
Mean Annual Ground Temperature (MAGT) and the Active-Layer Thickness
To illustrate such uncertainties Figure 4provides estimates of MAGT (Fig-
ure 4A) and ALT (Figure 4B) changes relative to the 1970 reference period
produced by the permafrost model forced by climatic projections from six
GCM models for the grid cell containing the city of Norilsk. Observational evi-
dence indicates that the permafrost temperature measured at 10 m depth in
Norilsk has changed from -7to -0.5°C range, depending on local conditions,
FIG.3—GCM-specific projections of Mean Annual Air Temperature (MAAT) (A) and Maxi-
mum Annual Snow Depth (MASD) (B) change from 1965-1970 reference period for the model
grid cell containing the city of Norilsk, indicated by a star in Figure 2(A). In both graphs years
on Y axis represent decadal periods used for calculations.
FIG.4—(A) Permafrost temperatures estimated using climates produced by six GCMs for
the model grid cell containing the city of Norilsk. (B) Active-Layer thickness anomalies relative
to 1965-1975 period estimated using climates produced by six GCMs for the model grid cell con-
taining the city of Norilsk. In both graphs years on Y axis represent decadal periods used for cal-
prior to major construction in the mid-1960s, to -2.5to 0.5°Cin2000s (Grebe-
netz et al. 2012). However, these observations were conducted within the city
limits where permafrost is greatly impacted by anthropogenic influences. The
lower model-produced estimates of permafrost temperature are representative
of highly generalized natural conditions (Figure 4A). This also explains the
smaller rate of change between 1970 and 2000 periods produced by model
ensemble compared to observations. Forcing the permafrost model by GFDL
climate projection produces a reduction in permafrost temperature by 2000s.
The ensemble mean indicates that the permafrost temperature will reach 0°C
during the second half of the 21st century.
Observational active layer data are available for 2005-2013 from the Circum-
polar Active Layer Monitoring (CALM) site R32 located in the vicinity of Nor-
ilsk in an undisturbed typical tundra landscape. The mean ALT over the
observation period was 0.92 m(0.81 -1.03 m). The permafrost model forced by
ensemble of six GCM climate scenarios resulted in average 2000s ALT of 1.00
m which agrees well with the observations. Analysis of model-produced
changes indicate an average of 0.13 m ALT increase from 1970sto2000s and an
additional 0.4m increase by 2020 (Figure 4b). Projected changes in permafrost
temperature vary greatly between models. The GFDL climate model produces
the highest rate of warming and CSIRO the lowest.
Analysis of model produced projection of permafrost temperature and the
active layer for the model grid cell containing Norilsk indicate that climates
produced by three GCMs (GFDL, HadGEM2, CanESM) result in the develop-
ment of a residual thaw layer above the permafrost by the year 2050. The
remaining three models project a 0.8m average increase in ALT by the year
2050 relative to 1970. All models, except CSIRO, estimate near-surface per-
mafrost degradation by the end of the century. According to CSIRO, low tem-
perature permafrost will persist throughout the century.
Permafrost parameters estimated using climate from six GSM were used within
the framework of the engineering model to assess the relative changes in bear-
ing capacity and the ability of the frozen ground to support structures. Figure 5
shows statistics of relative (expressed in percentage) changes in bearing capacity
from 1965-1975 and 1995-2005 periods estimated using climate projections pro-
duced by the ensemble of six GCM models.
Results presented in Figure 5illustrate the uncertainty related to climate
projections for climate-change impact assessments. According to conservative
estimates, represented by maps of minimum change in Figure 5, the climate-
induced decrease in bearing capacity will not exceed 25% by mid-21st century
throughout the continuous permafrost zone. The conservative projection
implies that even old 1970s structures have potential to withstand climate-
induced permafrost changes if engineered with safety factors above 25%.
Alternatively, the use of most extreme climate projections (maps of maximum
change) produce 75-95% reduction in bearing capacity for modern (2000s)
infrastructure throughout permafrost regions by 2050. Regardless of the climate
projection the most significant reduction in bearing capacity is expected in dis-
continuous and southern fringes of continuous permafrost zones. This is espe-
cially true for the north-western portion of the Russian permafrost region. This
area contains a large portion of Russian hydrocarbon reserves and since the
1980s has been a subject of increased urbanization and industrial development.
A climate-induced decrease in infrastructure stability can potentially signifi-
cantly impact approximately 350,000 people living in that region.
Four cities, representative of human development in the Russian permafrost
regions, were considered to illustrate variability in potential stability of urban
infrastructure resulted from uncertainty in climate projections: Salekhard, Nor-
ilsk, Yakutsk, and Anadyr (Figure 1). Salekhard (pop 40,000), located in
Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug (YNAO), is the administrative center of the
largest West Siberian oil and gas region. Norilsk (pop. 177,000), in the North
of Central Siberia, is one of the largest Arctic cities. Yakutsk (pop 200,000)is
the capital of the East Siberian Sakha-Yakutia republic. Anadyr (pop 10,000)is
FIG.5—Statistics of relative (expressed in %) changes in bearing capacity from 1965-1975
(1970) and 1995-2005 (2000) to decadal periods of 2000,2020 (2015-2025), 2050 (2045-2055) and
2010 (2090-2100) estimated using climate projections produced by the ensemble of six GCM
models. Changes relative to1970 period represent conditions faced by urban infrastructure built
during the Soviet construction boom of the 1960s and 1970s. Changes relative to 2000 represent
modern infrastructure.
the administrative center of Chukotka Autonomous Region, on the coast of the
Bering Sea. Model grid cells containing each city were extracted for analysis.
Figure 6shows changes in bearing capacity relative to the 1970 period for
model grid cells containing each city obtained using climate projections pro-
duced by six GCMs. Bearing capacity changes below 25% are considered to be
within the range of changes anticipated by engineering design and, as such, do
not significantly undermine stability of structures. On the other hand, bearing
capacity changes of more than 55 % exceed the safety factors engineered into
standard-design Soviet pile foundation (Shur and Goering 2009), potentially
FIG.6—Bearing capacity of standard pile foundation in percentages relative to 1965-1975 ref-
erence period estimated using climates, produced by six GCMs for the model grid cells contain-
ing for Russian Cities: Salekhard, Norilsk, Yakutsk, and Anadyr. Years on Y axis represent
decadal periods used for calculations.
leading to critical deformation of structures. Changes within the 25%-55%
range are considered to be moderate.
Estimates, obtained using average of six GCM-produced climate projections,
indicate a progressive climate-induced reduction in bearing capacity of stan-
dard foundations for all four cities. The ensemble mean changes from the 1970s
to 2000s periods, presented in Figure 6, are consistent with estimates obtained
using similar approach driven by climate data observed at weather stations
(Streletskiy et al. 2012a, b). On average, the fastest changes are projected for
Salekhard and Anadyr. There the bearing capacity have potential to reach criti-
cal levels by mid 2020s. In Yakutsk and Norilsk the projected climate-induced
decrease in bearing capacity will exceed 55% around the 2040s.
The use of individual GCM climate projections, however, results in high
diversity in estimates of bearing capacity change. For all four cities, the most
conservative climate-induced changes in bearing capacity are obtained using
CSIRO climate. The largest changes are produced using Can ESM and GFDL
climates. The range between high and low estimates of bearing capacity change
can be significant. For example, for the city of Norilsk, the projected climate-
induced reduction in bearing capacity between 1970 and 2050 reference periods
is expected to be 18% when utilizing CSIRO climate projection versus 92%
change projected by GFDL climate. In other words, CSIRO projects stability of
1970s Norilsk infrastructure through the first half of the 21st century, while esti-
mates produced using GFDL climate indicate significant deformations of mod-
ern (2000s) structures by 2020s.
Our assessment demonstrates the potential adverse effects of projected climatic
changes on the bearing capacity of foundations and, as a result, on stability of
infrastructure. However, the results presented in this study are not suitable for
deriving definitive conclusion at the local scale. To isolate climatic impacts
from other factors contributing to the stability of urban infrastructure our
modeling approach relates climate-induced permafrost changes, characteristic
of generalized undisturbed natural conditions, to bearing capacity of pile foun-
dations used throughout the Russian permafrost regions for standard-design
buildings. In many instances, such an approach can lead to more conservative
results since changes in the ground thermal regime of urban environments can
greatly exceed those of natural landscapes due to a range of anthropogenic
stressors related to the construction and operation of the city. For example, the
construction and maintenance of roads and utility lines, the removal and redis-
tribution of snow and vegetation, and/or the additional heat generated by
industrial and residential facilities can all lead to the significant modification of
both mechanical and thermal properties of the frozen ground, which, as a rule,
negatively affect the bearing capacity of foundations (Grebenets 2003; Grebenets
et al. 2012). Even urban and industrial pollution can greatly effect infrastructure
stability through soil salinization and related depression of the freezing point
and intensification of chemical weathering of concrete foundation piles (Grebe-
nets 1998; Grebenets et al. 2001). In many urban centers, anthropogenic distur-
bance led to pronounced permafrost warming and/or degradation beyond
those explainable by observed climatic changes (e.g. Khrustalev et al. 2000; Gre-
benets and Sadowski 1993; Grebenets and Ukhova 2008; Alekseeva et al. 2007).
The socio-economic crisis that occurred after the collapse of the Soviet
Union in 1990s has greatly affected the heavily-subsidized northern cities. Sig-
nificant reduction in construction and maintenance of infrastructure, abandon-
ment of standardized permafrost monitoring, and the outmigration of labor
force have also contributed to negative anthropogenic impacts on urban per-
mafrost. For example, undetected sewage and water leaks, reduction in central-
ized snow removal, and violation of construction codes contributed to further
warming of permafrost below the foundations during 1990s in Norilsk resulting
in serious deformation of many structures (Grebenets and Kerimov 2001). In
Yakutsk, the main reason for accelerated decrease in foundation strength was
attributed to errors in planning, construction, and maintenance of city infras-
tructure rather than climatic changes (Alekseeva et al. 2007). The analysis con-
ducted by Khrustalev et al. (2000) has identified the lack of adequate
monitoring and maintenance of leaking utility pipes as a major cause of bear-
ing capacity loss resulting in significant building deformations throughout the
Russian permafrost region.
Although anthropogenic causes contribute greatly to decrease in stability of
urban infrastructure throughout Russian permafrost regions, the significance of
climate-induced changes was demonstrated in several studies (e.g. Anisimov
et al. 2010; Khrustalev and Davidova 2007; Shiklomanov and Streletskiy 2013;
Smelev, 2010; Streletskiy et al. 2012 a,b;). For example, it was estimated that the
1.5°C increase in mean annual air temperature can potentially trigger deforma-
tion of almost all foundations in the city of Yakutsk (Khrustalev, 2000). The
more recent assessments have attributed a 5-20% decrease in bearing capacity
of permafrost foundations to observed climatic changes in number of Russian
cities (Streletskiy et al. 2012b).
The study presented here demonstrates that projected climatic changes can
potentially cause further significant reduction in the ability of frozen ground to
support urban structures. We expect that technogenic and socio-economic fac-
tors will continue to have pronounced effect on infrastructure in Russian cities
built on permafrost. Our results, however, indicate that the relative importance
of climate-induced permafrost changes is likely to increase, resulting in addi-
tional stress for aging infrastructure of many Russian northern communities.
Although a range of engineering solutions is available to mitigate negative
impacts of permafrost changes on infrastructure, their cost is prohibitive for a
city-wide applications in many economically vulnerable Russian municipalities.
The high uncertainty in rate and magnitude of potential impacts, resulted from
GCM-produced climate projections and demonstrated in this paper, compli-
cates the problem of developing adequate and cost effective adaptation and
mitigation strategy further.
A comprehensive modeling approach was used in conjunction with six CMIP5
GCM-produced climate projections to assess potential changes in stability of
urban infrastructure characteristic of Russian permafrost regions. The GCM
ensemble mean projects a MAAT increase of 4to 6°Cby2050 over permafrost
regions of Russia. The largest warming is expected in the northern part of the
region possibly due to an Arctic-amplification, which is driven, in part, by sea
ice reductions. Although increasing air temperature trends are evident from all
projections, the rate, magnitude and spatial pattern of temperature changes
ranges greatly between model-specific estimates. The GCM-produced precipita-
tion fields are inconsistent in both, magnitude and direction of change. Pro-
jected climate change will promote an increase of permafrost temperature, a
thickening of the active layer, and a decrease in bearing capacity of the frozen
ground. This can potentially lead to deformation and collapse of structures.
However, inconstancies in climatic projections lead to the large uncertainty in
rate and magnitude of bearing capacity change. The most conservative esti-
mates project a climate-induced decrease in bearing capacity of less than 25%
by mid-21st century throughout the continuous permafrost zone. Such change
should not significantly affect well-engineered structures. On the other hand,
the use of the maximum from the model ensemble results in 75-95% reduction
in bearing capacity throughout the permafrost region by 2050. This can have a
devastating effect on cities built on permafrost. According to all GCM-derived
climate projection, the most significant reduction in bearing capacity is
expected in discontinuous and southern fringes of continuous permafrost
For the four major Russian cities, considered for the analysis, our estimates,
obtained using an average of climate-models runs, indicate a progressive cli-
mate-induced reduction in bearing capacity of standard foundations. On aver-
age, the fastest changes are projected for Salekhard and Anadyr. There the
bearing capacity has potential to decrease to critical levels by mid 2020s. In
Yakutsk and Norilsk the critical climate-induced decrease in bearing capacity is
expected around 2040s. High uncertainty in climatic projections, however, does
not allow definitive conclusion about the rate and magnitude of bearing capac-
ity change for any of the cities used in this study.
It should be noted, that city-specific results of this study are presented for
illustrative purpose. The very course spatial resolution of the current General
Circulation Models precludes detailed analysis at the local scale. Spatial down-
scaling of GCM climate projections and detailed characterization of surface and
subsurface conditions are required for assessing climate-induce permafrost
changes for individual settlements. The modeling approach used in this study
is developed to isolate potential climate effects on stability of urban infrastruc-
ture. As such it is not suitable for specific engineering and/or local scale appli-
cation where site-specific conditions and anthropogenic factor can greatly affect
stability of individual buildings. However, our analysis demonstrates that cli-
mate-induced permafrost changes can potentially undermine the structural sta-
bility of foundations indicating a clear need for adopting construction norms
and regulations for permafrost regions that account for projected climate
changes. The results presented in this paper can contribute to the development
of new construction norms and adequate adaptation and mitigation strategies
for Russian northern cities.
Alekseeva, O.I., Balobaev, V.T., Grigoriev, M.N., Makarov, V.N., Zhang, R.V., Shatz, M.M., and
V.V. Shepelev. 2007. Urban development problems in permafrost areas (by the example of
Yakutsk). Earth Cryosphere 11 (2), 7683.
Andersland, O.B. and B. Ladanyi. 1994.An Introduction to Frozen Ground Engineering. Chapman
and Hall, New York, N.Y., 384 pp.
Anisimov, O.A. and D. Streletskiy. (2015). Geocryological Hazards of Thawing Permafrost.
Arctika XXI Century,2,6074.
., Belolutskaya, M.A., Grigoriev, M.N., Instanes, A., Kokorev, V.A., Oberman, N.G.,
Reneva, S.A., Strelchenko, Y.G., Streletskiy, D., and N.I. Shiklomanov. 2010.Major natural
and social-economic consequences of climate change in the permafrost region: predictions based
on observations and modeling. Greenpeace, Moscow, 44 pp. (in Russian)
., Shiklomanov, N.I., and F.E. Nelson. 1997. Global warming and active-layer thickness:
results from transient general circulation models. Global and Planetary Change,15,6177.
. and E.L. Ziltcova. 2012. Evaluation of 20-th - early 21st century regional climatic
changes in Russia: analysis of observations. Meteorology and Hydrology,6,95107. (in
., V.A. Kokorev, E.L., and E.L. Ziltcova. 2013. Temporal and Spatial Patterns of Modern
Climatic Warming: Case Study of Northern Eurasia. Climatic Change,3,871883. DOI
. and
.. 2013. Constructing optimal climate ensemble for evaluation of the climate
change impacts on the cryosphere. Ice and Snow,1,8392. (in Russian)
Bartsch, A., Kumpula, T., Forbes, B.C., and F. Stammler. 2010. Detection of snow surface
thawing and refreezing in the Eurasian Arctic with QuikSCAT: implications for reindeer
herding. Ecological Applications,20 (8), 23462358.
Brown, J., Ferrians, O., Heginbottom, J.A., and E. Melnikov. 2002.Circum-Arctic Map of
Permafrost and Ground-Ice Conditions, Version 2. Boulder, Colorado USA. NSIDC: National
Snow and Ice Data Center,
CNR. 1990.Construction Norms and Regulations for Foundations on Permafrost #2.02.04-88.
Moscow: State Engineering Committee of the USSR, Moscow, 134pp. (in Russian)
Drozdov, D.S., Rumyantseva, Y., Malkova, G., Romanovsky, V.E., Abramov, A., Konstantinov,
P., Sergeev, D., Shiklomanov, N.I., Kholodov, A., and O. Ponomareva. 2015. Monitoring of
permafrost in Russia and the international GTN-P project. 68th Canadian Geotechnical
Conference - GEOQu
ebec 2015,Qu
ebec, Canada, September 20-23,2015.
Ford, J.D. 2009. Dangerous climate change and the importance of adaptation for the Arctic’s
Inuit population. Environmental Research Letters,4(2)024006. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/4/
Grebenets, V.I. and A. Sadowski. 1993. Climate warming and thermal regime of foundations of a
northern city. Foundations and Soil Mechanics,5,2730. (in Russian)
.1998. A study of man-caused water logging and salinity in the Norilsk industrial area.
Earth Cryosphere,2(1), 4448. (in Russian)
. and A.G. Kerimov. 2001. The evolution of natural and man-made systems in the
Norilsk region. In Geocryological and geoecological problems of construction in the Far North,
Ed. Kerimov A.G., Norilsk Industrial Institute Press, Norilsk, pp. 130135. (In Russian)
.(2003). Geocryological-geoecological problems occurring in urbanised territories in
Northern Russia and methods for improvement of foundations. In Proceedings of the Eighth
International Conference on Permafrost, vol. 1., Eds. Phillips, M., Springman, S.M., Arenson,
L.U., and A.A. Balkema. Lisse, 303307.
., Streletskiy, D.A., and N.I. Shiklomanov. 2012. Geotechnical safety issues in the cities of
Polar Regions. Geography, Environment, Sustainability,3(5), 104119.
. and Y.A. Ukhova. 2008. Reduction in geotechnical reliability under degradation of
permafrost conditions of sub-bases. Foundations, and Soil Mechanics,5,2428. (in Russian)
Groisman, P., Gutman, G., Shvidenko, Z., Bergen, K., Baklanov, A. and P. Stackhouse Jr. 2013.
Introduction: Regional Features of Siberia. In Regional Environmental changes in Siberia and
Their Global Consequences. Ed. Groisman P. and G. Gutman, Springer, New York, 119.
. and A. Soja. 2009. Ongoing climatic change in Northern Eurasia: justification for
expedient research. Environmental Research Letters,4. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/4/4/045002.
Heleniak, T. 2010. Migration and Population Change in the Russian Far North during the 1990s.
In Migration in the Circumpolar North: Issues and Contexts, Ed Southcott C. and L. Huskey,
Canadian Circumpolar Institute Press, University of Alberta: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada,
.2014. Migration, Arctic. In Encyclopedia of Quality of Life Research. Springer, Dordrecht,
Netherlands, Ed. Michalos A.C., 40504058.
IPCC. 2014. Larsen, J.N., Anisimov, O.A., Constable, A., Hollowed, A.B., Maynard, N., Prestrud,
P., Prowse, T.D. and J.M.R. Stone. 2014.Polar regions. In: Climate Change 2014: Impacts,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part B: Regional Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II
to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Eds
Barros, V.R., C.B. Field, D.J. Dokken, M.D. Mastrandrea, K.J. Mach, T.E. Bilir, M.
Chatterjee, K.L. Ebi, Y.O. Estrada, R.C. Genova, B. Girma, E.S. Kissel, A.N. Levy, S.
MacCracken, P.R. Mastrandrea, and L.L. White. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge,
United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 15671612.
Khrustalev, L.N. 2000. Allowance for climate change in designing foundations on permafrost
grounds. International workshop on permafrost engineering, Longyearbyen, Norway, 18-21
June, 2000, Tapir Publishers, 2536.
. and I.V. Davidova. 2007. Forecast of climate warming and account of it at estimation of
foundation reliability for buildings in permafrost zone. Earth Cryosphere,11 (2), 6875. (in
., Parmuzin, S.Y., and L.V. Emelyanova. 2011.Reliability of northern infrastructure in
conditions of changing climate. Moscow: University Book Press, Moscow, 342.
Konishchev, V.N., Grebenets, V.I., Tumel’, N.V. and A.V. Kislov. 2011. Changes in snow cover,
permafrost and permafrost-engineering parameters under global warming. In Environmental
and geographic consequences of climate warming in 21st century in Eastern European Plain and
Western Siberia. Ed. Kasimov, N.S. and A.V. Kislov. MAKS Press, Moscow, p 167243. (in
Kudryavtsev, V., Garagula, L., Kondrat’yeva, K. and V. Melamed. 1974.Permafrost Forecasting.
Izdatel’stvo MGU, Moscow, 431 pp. (In Russian)
Larsen, P.H., Goldsmith, S., Smith, O., Wilson, M.L., and K. Strzepek. 2008. Estimating future
costs for Alaska public infrastructure at risk from climate change. Global Environmental
Nelson, F.E., Anisimov, O.A., and N.I. Shiklomanov. 2002. Climate change and hazard zonation
in the Circum-Arctic permafrost regions. Natural Hazards,26,203225.
.2003. (Un)frozen in time. Science,299,16731675.
Riahi, K., Krey, V., Rao, S., Chirkov, V., Fischer, G., Kolp, P., Kindermann, G., Nakicenovic, N.,
and P. Rafai. 2011. RCP 8.5A scenario of comparatively high greenhouse gas emissions.
Climatic Change,109,3357. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0149-y.
RosHYDROMET (2014)Second assessment of climatic changes and their impacts for Russian
Federation, Federal Agency for Hydrometeorology and environmental monitoring
(RosHYDROMET), Moscow, 61pp. (In Russian)
Romanovsky, V.E., Drozdov, D.S., Oberman, N.G., Malkova, G., Kholodov, A., Marchenko, S.S.,
Moskalenko, N.G., Sergeev, D., Ukraintseva, N., and A. Abramov. 2010. Thermal state of
permafrost in Russia. Permafrost and Periglacial Processes,21,136155.
Sazonova, T. and V.E. Romanovsky. 2003. A model for regional-scale estimation of temporal and
spatial variability of active layer thickness and mean annual ground temperatures. Permafrost
and Periglacial Processes,14,125139.
Shiklomanov, N.I. and F.E. Nelson. 1999. Analytic representation of the active layer thickness
field, Kuparuk River Basin, Alaska. Ecological Modelling,123,105125.
., Anisimov, O.A., Zhang, T.J., Marchenko, S.S., Nelson, F.E. and C. Oelke. 2007.
Comparison of model-produced active layer fields: results for northern Alaska. Journal of
Geophysical Research,112,F02S10. doi:10.1029/2006JF000571,2007.
. and D.A. Streletskiy. 2013. Effect of Climate Change on Siberian Infrastructure. In
Regional Environmental changes in Siberia and Their Global Consequences. Ed. Groisman P.
and G. Gutman, Springer, New York, 155170.
Shmelev, D.G. 2010. Forecast of Changing of Main Engineering and Geocryological Parameters
in Russian Arctic to 2030 and 2050. Abstracts of Third European Conference on Permafrost,
June 13-17, Svalbard, Norway, 21-22.
Shur, Y.L. and D.J. Goering. 2009. Climate change and foundations of buildings in permafrost
regions. In Permafrost Soils, Ed. Margesin R., Springer, Berlin, 251260.
Streletskiy, D.A., Shiklomanov, N.I., and V.I. Grebenets. 2012a. Change in the bearing capacity of
permafrost due to global warming in the North of Western Siberia. Earth Cryosphere,16 (1),
2232. (In Russian).
., and F.I. Nelson. 2012b. Permafrost, infrastructure and climate change: A GIS-
based landscape approach to geotechnical modeling. Arctic, Antarctic and Alpine Research,44
(3), 368380.
., and F.E. Nelson. 2012c. Spatial variability of permafrost active-layer thickness
under contemporary and projected climate in Northern Alaska. Polar Geography,35
(2),95116, DOI:10.1080/1088937X.2012.680204.
., Sherstiukov, A.B., Frauenfeld, O.W., and F.E. Nelson. 2015. Changes in the 19632013
shallow ground thermal regime in Russian permafrost regions. Environmental. Research.
Letters.,10,125005, doi:10.1088/1748-9326/10/12/125005.
., Anisimov, O.A., and A.A. Vasiliev. 2014. Permafrost Degradation. In Snow and Ice-
Related Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Ed. W. Haeberli and C. Whiteman, Elsevier Acadimic
Press, New York, 303344.
Tsytovich, N.A. 1975.The Mechanics of Frozen Ground. McGraw-Hill, New York, 426 pp.
... More than 75% of all buildings and engineering structures in the permafrost zone are constructed and operated on the principle of maintaining the frozen state of the foundation soils. The thawing of ice-saturated soil because of climate change or various technogenic impacts (for example, due to underground heat sources) will be accompanied by subsidence of the Earth's surface and the development of dangerous permafrost geological processes leading to accidents, the possible consequences of which may be the destruction of wells in oil and gas fields, various supports, structures, piling foundations (PF), residential buildings, and serious man-made disasters associated with a decrease in the bearing capacity of the soil [31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]. To predict and prevent such consequences, the method of geotechnical monitoring is used [31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48], an important element of which is the performance of temperature measurements in the soil in the PF of a capital structure and the analysis of the dynamics of their changes [43]. ...
... The thawing of ice-saturated soil because of climate change or various technogenic impacts (for example, due to underground heat sources) will be accompanied by subsidence of the Earth's surface and the development of dangerous permafrost geological processes leading to accidents, the possible consequences of which may be the destruction of wells in oil and gas fields, various supports, structures, piling foundations (PF), residential buildings, and serious man-made disasters associated with a decrease in the bearing capacity of the soil [31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38]. To predict and prevent such consequences, the method of geotechnical monitoring is used [31][32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47][48], an important element of which is the performance of temperature measurements in the soil in the PF of a capital structure and the analysis of the dynamics of their changes [43]. Longterm forecasting of such changes and their impact on the bearing properties of foundation soils under buildings will make it possible to conclude if it is necessary to make steps to increase the bearing capacity of piles by correcting the temperature regime of the soil under the building, for example, by thermal stabilization of the foundation soil with the help of seasonal cooling devices (SCDs) [49][50][51][52][53][54][55][56][57], the use of ground surface cooling [58], the use of ventilated piles [59], the cooling of casing pipes [60], or to freeze the soil at the site of the planned piling foundation before construction of capital facilities [56]. ...
Full-text available
Most residential buildings and capital structures in the permafrost zone are constructed on the principle of maintaining the frozen state of the foundation soils. The changing climate and the increasing anthropogenic impact on the environment lead to changes in the boundaries of permafrost. These changes are especially relevant in the areas of piling foundations of residential buildings and other engineering structures located in the northern regions since they can lead to serious accidents caused by the degradation of permafrost and decrease the bearing capacity of the soil in such areas. Therefore, organization of temperature monitoring and forecasting of temperature changes in the soil under the buildings is an actual problem. To solve this problem, we use computer simulation methods of three-dimensional nonstationary thermal fields in the soil in combination with real-time monitoring of the temperature of the soil in thermometric wells. The developed approach is verified by using the temperature monitoring data for a specific residential building in the city of Salekhard. Comparison of the results of numerical calculations with experimental data showed good agreement. Using the developed computer software, nonstationary temperature fields under this building are obtained and, on this basis, the bearing capacities of all piles are calculated and a forecast of their changes in the future is given. To avoid decreasing the bearing capacity of piles it is necessary to prevent the degradation of permafrost and to supply the thermal stabilization of the soil. The proposed approach, based on a combination of the soil temperature monitoring and computer modeling methods, can be used to improve geotechnical monitoring methods.
... Permafrost thaw, for example, may cross a tipping point starting a self-supporting feedback cycle of degradation if temperature anomaly increases beyond 2 o C. Indeed, the regionwide increase of soil temperature has been already reported (Biskaborn et al., 2019). Degrading permafrost not only releases green-house gases but also weakens ground-bearing capacity that puts Arctic infrastructure at risk (Shiklomanov et al., 2016;Hjort et al., 2018). In a review of Arctic urban vulnerability, Streletsky et al., (2012) concluded that the permafrost degradation has already damaged 10% (in Norilsk) to 80% (in Vorkuta) of constructions in the Russian cities. ...
... The response of the natural environment to warming is observed both in the thermophysical state [2][3][4][5] and landscape morphology [6][7][8]. Anthropogenic impact in a warming climate can exacerbate environmental and social problems [9][10][11][12]. ...
Full-text available
This article is devoted to the study of the distribution of ground ice volumes in the upper layers of 5–10 m permafrost in the permafrost landscapes of Arctic Yakutia. Compilation of such a map will serve as a basis for assessing the vulnerability of permafrost to global warming, anthropogenic impact and forecasting the evolution of permafrost landscapes. The map was compiled using ArcGIS software, which supports attribute table mapping. The ground ice map of Arctic Yakutian permafrost landscapes shows that about 19% of the area is occupied by ultra ice-rich (above 0.6 in volumetric ice content) sediments. Very high ice volumes (0.4–0.6) are cover approximately 27%, moderate ice volumes (0.2–0.4)—25% of the area, and low ice volumes (less than 0.2)—about 29% of Arctic Yakutia.
... Therefore, the design of vertical bearing capacity is one of the aspects that should be focused on when designing and constructing pile foundations in cold regions.With the rapid development of globalization, pile foundation design and construction personnel are more involved in the construction of transnational engineering, but it is difficult to master the pile foundation specifications of many countries. Due to the differences in pile foundation codes in various countries (Nikolay et al., 2017;Ge et al., 2012;Ma et al., 2002;Wu et al., 2018;Zhang et al., 2013), designers in various countries have different results in pile foundation design according to a single national code, resulting in unreliable design of vertical bearing capacity of pile foundation in cold regions (Yang et al., 2008;Liu et al., 2018;Niu et al., 2021;Zhang et al., 1999;Tang and Yang, 2010;Guan et al., 2022).To date, scholars from various countries have not specifically discussed the aforementioned differences (Zhang et al., 2013;Yang et al., 2008;Liu et al., 2018;Niu et al., 2021;Zhang et al., 1999;Tang and Yang, 2010). Thus, comparing the differences in the vertical bearing capacity design of pile foundations in cold regions attributed to differences in different national codes has a guiding significance for the design and construction of pile foundations in cold regions. ...
The design results of pile foundations based on different national codes are not identical owing to differences in the design and calculation of the vertical bearing capacity of frozen soil pile foundation, thus inconveniencing pile foundation designers involved in international projects. This paper summarises the distribution of large-scale projects and the selection of pile foundations in cold regions. Models of a frictional elastic system and a friction end-bearing rigid–elastic system were obtained based on the vertical force characteristics of pile foundations under climate change in cold region. Differences in the design and calculation methods of the vertical bearing capacity of the pile foundations and the determination methods of the vertical ultimate bearing capacity in construction, transportation, and power transmission engineering in cold regions of various countries were discussed, and the applicability of each design method under complicated conditions was proposed. The calculations of the end resistance, side resistance, negative friction and frost heaving force of pile foundations in different national codes were described, and the values of partial safety factor for resistance and factor of safety were discussed, and the basis for the selection is summarised for different engineering design parameters. The study is intended to provide essential normative guidance for designing the vertical bearing capacity for pile foundation engineering in cold regions.
... Yakutia has extreme climate conditions, with more than a 100°C difference between winter and summer extreme temperatures. With the overall warming of the Arctic, evidence from literature on Yakutia demonstrates uneven changes in climate throughout the region ( Kirillina 2017;Shiklomanov et al. 2017), and projections suggest warming in the future (Kirillina, Lobanov, and Serditova 2015). ...
... for at least two years. The changes in the ground thermal regime in the Arctic lead to ground subsidence, which can damage infrastructure (Shiklomanov et al., 2017a;Shiklomanov et al., 2017b;Vincent et al., 2017). In a circumpolar study, Hjort et al. (2018) found that ∼70% of the infrastructure in the permafrost region is located in areas with high potential of near-surface thaw by 2050. ...
The Arctic is changing rapidly and permafrost is thawing. Especially ice-rich permafrost, such as the late Pleistocene Yedoma, is vulnerable to rapid and deep thaw processes such as surface subsidence after the melting of ground ice. Due to permafrost thaw, the permafrost carbon pool is becoming increasingly accessible to microbes, leading to increased greenhouse gas emissions, which enhances the climate warming. The assessment of the molecular structure and biodegradability of permafrost organic matter (OM) is highly needed. My research revolves around the question “how does permafrost thaw affect its OM storage?” More specifically, I assessed (1) how molecular biomarkers can be applied to characterize permafrost OM, (2) greenhouse gas production rates from thawing permafrost, and (3) the quality of OM of frozen and (previously) thawed sediments. I studied deep (max. 55 m) Yedoma and thawed Yedoma permafrost sediments from Yakutia (Sakha Republic). I analyzed sediment cores taken below thermokarst lakes on the Bykovsky Peninsula (southeast of the Lena Delta) and in the Yukechi Alas (Central Yakutia), and headwall samples from the permafrost cliff Sobo-Sise (Lena Delta) and the retrogressive thaw slump Batagay (Yana Uplands). I measured biomarker concentrations of all sediment samples. Furthermore, I carried out incubation experiments to quantify greenhouse gas production in thawing permafrost. I showed that the biomarker proxies are useful to assess the source of the OM and to distinguish between OM derived from terrestrial higher plants, aquatic plants and microbial activity. In addition, I showed that some proxies help to assess the degree of degradation of permafrost OM, especially when combined with sedimentological data in a multi-proxy approach. The OM of Yedoma is generally better preserved than that of thawed Yedoma sediments. The greenhouse gas production was highest in the permafrost sediments that thawed for the first time, meaning that the frozen Yedoma sediments contained most labile OM. Furthermore, I showed that the methanogenic communities had established in the recently thawed sediments, but not yet in the still-frozen sediments. My research provided the first molecular biomarker distributions and organic carbon turnover data as well as insights in the state and processes in deep frozen and thawed Yedoma sediments. These findings show the relevance of studying OM in deep permafrost sediments.
... Changes in the physical and thermal condition of the active layer and upper permafrost in response to global warming are a matter of concern for urban areas. In recent years, several studies have been published on the issue [5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]. They have focused primarily on the thermal regime of frozen ground and the bearing capacity of foundations under global climate warming. ...
Full-text available
A study was undertaken to investigate the structure and condition of urban permafrost in the city of Yakutsk. The response of permafrost to recent climate change was assessed for a Shergin Shaft site in a cryogenic landscape. The results indicate that the thickness of the active layer which consists of anthropogenic soils experienced no change during the second half of the 20th century and the early 21st century. However, the thermal state of the underlying alluvial sediments has changed significantly in response to the warming of the climate. The permafrost temperatures at a depth of 10 m increased by about 3 °C between 1934 and 2015.
... La construcción de edificaciones en suelos con permafrost es problemática y, al mismo tiempo, comprometida en estos territorios. No solo por los recursos minerales que el subsuelo contiene, sino por los efectos que su alteración térmica puede causar en los ecosistemas locales y el medio ambiente global (ACIA, 2005;Auld et al., 2009;Instanes, 2003;Shiklomanov et al., 2016;Yu et al., 2020). En Europa, la principal filosofía de diseño geotécnico, de acuerdo al Eurocódigo UNE- EN-1997-1 (CEN, 2009), es que la estructura debe funcionar de acuerdo con los supuestos de diseño durante la vida útil de la estructura. ...
Full-text available
Since its inauguration in the 1989/90 campaign, the Spanish Antarctic Base Gabriel de Castilla (BAEGC) has supported an increasing volume of scientific projects, stimulating the expansion of its facilities. The permafrost soil on which they are located is affected by changing thermal and periglacial conditions that disturb its mechanical and physical characteristics. This paper analyzes the foundation behavior of a building (18.5x6.5x2.7 m long – wide – height, around 104 kg in operation supported on 16 posts) through the geomechanical study (stresses and deformations) of the ground during the winter and southern summer seasons, supported by three types of foundations: piles, footings and slabs. These are commonly recommended as support elements in periglacial soils affected by thermal-seasonal variations. The geotechnical properties have been obtained from stress-tests on soil samples collected in the surroundings of the BAEGC, General Marvá Army Engineers Laboratory (INTA). Considering the thermal variations in the tests on frozen and unfrozen samples, the geotechnical column type has been established and extended along the profile of the 2D domain. The stationary stress-strain equations with a constitutive Mohr-Coulomb rupture model have been solved using finite elements in MIDAS GTS-NX, for each season and each foundation, discretizing with a triangular or quadrangular mesh adapted to the 2D domain geometry with the foundation. The numerical results show that, in any tested case, there is no critical ground failure, and the foundation with the smallest displacement (about 0.036 m), both in summer and winter, is the 1.2 m foundation placed at 0.5 m depth on permafrost.
Full-text available
Climate change has adverse impacts on Arctic natural ecosystems and threatens northern communities by disrupting subsistence practices, limiting accessibility, and putting built infrastructure at risk. In this paper, we analyze spatial patterns of permafrost degradation and associated risks to built infrastructure due to loss of bearing capacity and thaw subsidence in permafrost regions of the Arctic. Using a subset of three CMIP6 models under SSP245 and 585 scenarios we estimated changes in permafrost bearing capacity and ground subsidence between two reference decades: 2015-2024 and 2055-2064. Using publicly available infrastructure databases we identified roads, railways, airport runways, and buildings at risk of permafrost degradation and estimated country-specific costs associated with damage to infrastructure. The results show that under the SSP245 scenario 29% of roads, 23% of railroads, and 11% of buildings will be affected by permafrost degradation, costing $182 billion to the Arctic states by mid-century. Under the SSP585 scenario, 44% of roads, 34% of railroads, and 17% of buildings will be affected with estimated cost of $276 billion, with airport runways adding an additional $0.5 billion. Russia is expected to have the highest burden of costs, ranging from $115 to $169 billion depending on the scenario. Limiting global greenhouse gas emissions has the potential to significantly decrease the costs of projected damages in Arctic countries, especially in Russia. The approach presented in this study underscores the substantial impacts of climate change on infrastructure and can assist to develop adaptation and mitigation strategies in Arctic states.
Full-text available
Spatial variability and temporal trends of the shallow ground thermal regime and permafrost active-layer thickness (ALT) were estimated over 1963–2013 using daily soil temperature data available from stations of the Russian Hydrometeorological Service. Correlation analysis was used to evaluate the role of changing climatic conditions on the ground thermal regime. ALT data collected by the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring program in Russia were used to expand the geography of ALT observations over 1999–2013, and to identify 'hot spots' of soil temperature and ALT change. Results indicate that a substantially higher rate of change in the thermal regime of permafrost-affected soils prevailed during 1999–2013, relative to the last fifty years. Results indicate that the thermal regime of the upper permafrost in western Russia is strongly associated with air temperature, with much weaker relationships in central and eastern Russia. The thermal regime of permafrost-affected soils shows stronger dependence on climatic conditions over the last fifteen years relative to the historical 50-year period. Geostatistical analysis revealed that the cities of Norilsk and Susuman are hot spots of permafrost degradation. Of six settlements selected for detailed analysis in various parts of the permafrost regions, all but one (Chukotka), show substantial changes in the shallow ground thermal regime. Northern locations in the continuous permafrost region show thickening of the active layer, while those farther south experienced development of residual thaw layers above the permafrost and decreases in the duration of the freezing period.
Conference Paper
Full-text available
The progress in the worldwide permafrost monitoring activity is a result of close and long-term cooperation between the scientists, research institutes and various organizations. There are number of leading international projects, including the GTN-P (Global Terrestrial Network for Permafrost), CALM (Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring), ACD (Arctic Coastal Dynamics), TSP (Thermal State of Permafrost) and others. The short review of the Russian activities is presented. The huge database about the long-term dynamics of permafrost parameters is very useful, especially due to the similar research organization concept. The next improvement should be the closer interaction with the National Weather Observation Services.
Full-text available
This study is targeted at narrowing the range of uncertainties in predictive cryospheric modeling associated with climatic projections. We used the output from 36 CMIP5 GCM runs for the period 1976–2005 and calculated trends of several climatic characteristics that largely govern the state of the cryosphere, i.e. seasonal and mean annual air temperature, thawing degree-day sums, annual and winter precipitation sums. Data from 744 weather stations were used to identify and delineate 17 regions, which demonstrate coherent temperature changes in the past decades. Results from GCMs and observations were averaged over the «coherent regions» and compared with each other. Ultimately, we evaluated the skills of individual CMIP5 GCMs, ranked them in the specific context of predictive cryospheric modeling, identified top-end models in each of the 17 regions and eliminated the outliers. Selected top-end GCMs were used to compose optimal regional ensembles that were compared with the ensemble consisting of all available models. An optimal ensemble was also constructed for the area underlain by permafrost in Russia. Results indicate that the all-model ensemble in most regions underestimates the projected temperature changes compared to the optimal ensemble. Elimination of the outliers narrows the range of uncertainty in regional climate projection by 5–20%.
Preface: Frozen ground Physical and thermal properties Heat flow in soils Thaw behavior of frozen ground Mechanical properties of frozen soil Construction ground freezing Foundations in frozen soil Stability of soil masses in cold regions Earthwork in cold regions Field investigations Appendix A. Symbols Appendix B. SI Units Appendix C. Laboratory and field tests on frozen soils References Index.
Arctic settlements built on permafrostface rather unique set of geotechnical challenges. On urbanized areas, technogenic transformation of natural landscapes due toconstruction of various types of infrastructure leads to changes in heat exchange in permafrost-atmosphere system. The spatial distribution and intensity of dangerous cryogenic processes in urbanized areas is substantially different from natural background settings found prior to construction. Climate change, especially pronounced in the Arctic, exacerbated these changes. Combination of technogenic pressure and climate change resulted in potentially hazardous situation in respect to operational safety of the buildings and structures built on permafrost. This paper is focused on geotechnical safety issues faced by the Arctic urban centers built on permafrost. Common types of technogenic impacts characteristic for urban settlements wereevaluated based on field observations and modeling techniques. The basic principles of development of deformations are discussed in respect to changing permafrost conditions and operational mode of the structures built on permafrost.
According to meteorological monitoring, it has been established that from the middle of 60th years of the XX century there is a steady increase in mean annual air temperature on the planet. Permafrost temperature increase caused by climate change lowers ground reliability when used as foundation of buildings. For ten areas, the forecast of mean annual temperature of air and of permafrost has been made. Using a statistical approach, the foundation reliability and the factor of reliability have been calculated with or without consideration of climate change. Dependences of reliability factor and reliability on various parameters - climatic, geological, constructive and economic have been analyzed. Necessity of statistical methods for design calculations has been demonstrated.
The basic problems of the building and structure stability in Yakutsk are discussed. They are analyzed in relation to local permafrost conditions, environmental situation, recent climate warming, and cryogenic processes and phenomena occurring in the city area. The building construction and maintenance problems, as well as the ways of improving the reliability and durability of buildings are discussed. © O.I. Alekseeva, V.T. Balobaev, M.N. Grigoriev, V.N. Makarov, R.V. Zhang, M.M. Shatz, V.V. Shepelev, 2007.