In the right half of the house and a gaping hole. The four-storey buildings in the Russian settlement of Cerskij crashes in Parts, as the photo shows. The reason for the age of the building, is not, researchers believe. Because the soils are thawed by the global warming slow down whole buildings or streets.

That could soon affect vast areas of the permafrost regions in the Northern hemisphere, and important infrastructure, for example, in the North of Russia, Canada or Alaska to endanger, the scientists report in the journal “Nature Communications”.

you have investigated on the basis of climate models, which regions of the globe are on the Northern half by the Thawing of the permanently frozen subsoil to be particularly threatened – even if the global temperature rises less than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.


by 2050 could be affected, therefore, three-quarters of the population in the permafrost regions – the equivalent of approximately 3.6 million people. By the Softening of the floors of important buildings, roads, Railways, industrial plants or supply lines would be broken.

risks for Oil and gas pipelines

Depending on the extent of global warming between 48 and 87 percent of the Arctic infrastructure in regions where the soil will thaw by 2050, it is predicted that, the researchers write.

470 kilometers of Lhasa railway , which connects the Chinese city of Xining and Tibet together. 280 kilometres of the most northerly railway’m at all (the Obskaya to Karskaja ). The transport in the Asian part of Russia is used to tap natural gas and oil fields along the route and to build a Pipeline.

1200 settlements are located in the area. In addition, Oil and gas pipelines are located on soils that could thaw out, among other things:

1590 kilometers of the Eastern Siberia-Pacific ocean Pipeline for the export of Russian oil in the direction of Japan, China and Korea, 1260 kilometers of a also for the European Union, the major pipeline , the transported in the Autonomous district of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous Okrug in the North of Russia begins, and 550 kilometers of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline , the crude oil by the US state.

In the high-risk Zone are not living close to a Million people

However, the risks of thawing soil are the same everywhere. The researchers defined high-risk zones (see categories of “high” and “hot spot” in the graph). In a Million people, and there – 25 to 45 percent of the infrastructure, depending on the invoice. “This area includes, for example, of the 36,000 building, 13.000 kilometers of road and 100 airports,” the scientists write.

risk map with detailed view of Central Alaska and North-Western Russian Arctic,

climate protection is worth it in the long term

The sagging of important infrastructure could, however, not only for the permafrost regions, but also elsewhere for the Problem. “45 percent of the world’s major Oil and natural gas production fields in the Russian Arctic are located in high-risk zones”, – stated in the study. They can be damaged by a sagging, may result in a worldwide shortage of supply.

The researchers venture a view on 2050. Until this year, the scenarios are quite uniform, regardless of whether or not climate change goals are met or if the States continue as before. “Taking into account but the following decades, it makes a clear difference for the damage to the infrastructure,” the researchers write. This is also an appeal to the negotiators on the currently in Katowice to be held UN climate change conference.

The researchers argue, therefore, that we take into account the results of the study for future construction projects. More detailed analyses of individual risk regions, could help the costs of more robust infrastructure and the risks of thawing soil to weigh.


Sam Yoon has many years of experiences in journalism. He has covered such areas as information technology, science, sports and politics. Yoon can be reached at 82-2-6956-6698.