Blog Archive

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Sergey Zimov: One small way to help preserve Siberian permafrost -- introduce large grazing herbivores to flatten out the snow and recreate steppe grassland ecosystem

Rescuing the Russian permafrost

Two scientists in Siberia have discovered why the Arctic permafrost is melting. They say reintroducing millions of bison and elk to the steppe ecosystem could help stop global warming.

Watch video07:10

    Pleistocene rewilding:

    Pleistocene Park (RussianПлейстоценовый парк) is a nature reserve on the Kolyma River south of Chersky in the Sakha RepublicRussia, in northeastern Siberia, where an attempt is being made to recreate the northern subarctic steppe grassland ecosystem that flourished in the area during the last glacial period.[1]
    The project is being led by Russian researcher Sergey Zimov,[2] with hopes to back the hypothesis that overhunting, and not climate change, was primarily responsible for the extinction of wildlife and the disappearance of the grasslands at the end of the Pleistocene epoch.[3][4]
    A further aim is to research the climatic effects of the expected changes in the ecosystem. Here the hypothesis is that the change from tundra to grassland will result in a raised ratio of energy emission to energy absorption of the area, leading to less thawing of permafrost and thereby less emission of greenhouse gases.[3][4]
    To study this, large herbivores have been released, and their effect on the local fauna is being monitored. Preliminary results point at the ecologically low-grade tundra biome being converted into a productive grassland biome, and at the energy emission of the area being raised.[5]
    A documentary is being produced about the park by an American journalist and filmmaker.[6][7]

    No comments: