Climate extremes in South Western Siberia: past and future.

Project SASCHA aims to increase the sustainability and resilience to climate change of agricultural land-use in Western Siberia. A thorough understanding of climate trends is an important precondition for this, but for Western Siberia we are far off having a complete picture of what will happen in the long run.

Degefie T. Degefie, PhD-student at the University of Münster, and his German and Russian co-authors have now published a detailed analysis of climate trends in the region. They focused on a number of parameters known as 'climate extreme indices', such as the 'maximum of the daily maximum temperature' or the number of 'very wet days'.

The analysis revealed a significant increase in extremes related to temperature and longer periods of dryer weather in the south of the region. This might be indicative of an increasing agricultural drought risk across the forest steppe, where most cropland is situated.

Projections until the year 2050 based on their dataset suggest that these developments might become even more pronounced in the future. For the Pre-Taiga eco-zone, situated in the North of SASCHA’s study area, Degefie et al. predict a future increase in growing season length. Large areas might therefore become suitable for crop production, at least from a climatic point of view.

The authors conclude that the described spatio-temporal trends could ultimately result in a northward shift of eco-zones in Western Siberia. These shifts could by direct, i.e. by climate-induced vegetation changes, or indirect, by a 'migration' of agriculture into more northern areas.

The results were published online in the journal Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment.

Full citation: Degefie, T.D., Fleischer, E., Klemm, O., Soromotin, A.V., Soromotina, O.V., Tolstikov, A.V., Abramov, N.V. (2014): Climate extremes in South Western Siberia: past and future. Stochastic Environmental Research and Risk Assessment (available online)

Author: Johannes Kamp