Natalya Saprunova presents the solo exhibition “Living on Permafrost Land”
Riva Tre Novembre / Angolo Via Mazzini - Trieste
Sunday 29 October 2023
A fact about climate change that can no longer be ignored today is that the ice is melting, but not only in the oceans.
Permafrost – this underground cold that was considered “eternal” is also a victim of global warming. Permafrost is an upper part of the earth’s crust, the temperature of which remains below zero and goes down to -10°C. Its depth can extend up to 1 km and a half.
In Russia, Yakutia is the cradle of permafrost having its largest part with an area of just over three million square kilometers. This place of Eastern Siberia is known as the Pole of Cold and distinguished by a continental climate, characterized by long winters with temperatures below -40° -60°C and short summers. During this period of 1 to 2 months, only the upper layer of the earth must thaw, thus allowing the development of vegetation, but today, due to warming, a partial thaw of the deep layers is in progress. This thaw represents many inconveniences for local populations: subsidence of land, collapse of buildings, rupture of oil pipelines, deformation of roads, disturbances in ecosystems.
Living on a permafrost land, people are mainly engaged in herding cows, horses and reindeers.
Due to the extreme winter cold, the infrastructures, except in large cities, do not allow to have running water or sanitary facilities inside most homes. Having a very difficult access to the water, people take ice from the frozen river or order the delivery by water carrier which pumps water from rivers.
Summer heat getting stronger and stronger dries up the groundwater which causes the ignition of peat in soils, the drying out of vegetation, forest fires and the melting of permafrost. Oymyakon village in Yakutia, known as the coldest permanently inhabited settlement on Earth, is considered as a regulator of climate by diffusing its freshness.
This place is closely observed by meteorological stations because its warming and the absence of the Oymyakon cyclone would become catastrophic for the whole planet. Despite a rather stable average temperature of the year, climate anomalies already noticed which causes permafrost to thaw. According to the researchers, the permafrost could thaw before the end of this century, impacting not only the infrastructure of local populations, but also the quantity of greenhouse gases and the state of the biosphere of our planet with the release of methane, mercury, ancient bacteria and viruses.