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Using aerial survey data and satellite images, Russian researchers are studying the effects of climate change on Siberian Crane breeding grounds in Yakutia, Russia.

To Learn more click on the link below to view additional images and information from the Yakutia study. Landscape changes in Yakutia.pdf
(1.5 MB)

Read more about the impact of climate change on cranes in The ICF Bugle article Cranes Respond to Climate Change.pdf
(878 KB)




Climate Change impacts Siberian Crane breeding areas in Yakutia, Russia

Scientists in Yakutia, Russia are studying changes in tundra landscapes that show rising temperatures are impacting Siberian Crane breeding habitat in eastern Siberia.

Using aerial survey data and satellite images collected between 1952 - 2004, researchers from the Institute of Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone in Yakutsk, Russia calculated the surface area of open water and land over a 26,000 sq km region.

The analysis shows that the size of many lakes within the study area are increasing, due to flooding and raising water levels in lowlands used by nesting Siberian Cranes. The researchers believe that these changes are related to increasing global temperatures and suggest that Siberian Crane habitat may be reduced considerably as a result.

The images above illustrate changes in land and water surface area over a 40-46 year period. The area of the lake increased by approximately 3.6 km2 over this time period. Note the flooding of the isthmus in the center.

The following abstract is from a paper presented by Anatoly Pshennikov and Nickolai Germogenov at the North Pacific Migratory Bird conference in August 2007.

Changes in landscape elements on the Siberian Crane eastern population
breeding grounds and their long-term dynamics according to aerial and
remote sensing data

Anatoly Pshennikov and Nickolai Germogenov
Institute of Biological Problems of the Cryolithozone
Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

Geographic Information System software (ESRI ArcView GIS 3.3) were used to monitor changes in landscape elements on the breeding grounds of the Siberian Crane eastern population in an area of approximately 26,000 sq. km (limited by tributaries of the Indigirka and Gusinaya Rivers to the north and the Berelekh River to the south). Topographic maps (1:100,000 and 1:200,000) produced as the result of aerial surveys in 1952-1960s, 1971 and 1980; black and white satellite photos from 1976; and Landsat 7 ETM+ images from 2000 and 2004 provided the source imagery for analysis.

Over a period of 40- 48 years, in a region of high density Siberian Crane territories, the spatial extent of nine lakes that range in size from 11.4-49.6 sq. km increased by 0.3-2.9%; the area of 16 lakes (from 0.25-106 sq. km) – by 3-11%; and the area of 17 lakes (from 1.7-35 sq. km) – by 15.9-31.5%. The only lakes that decreased in area (by 3.5%) were Lake Chonobul, with an area over 17 sq. km, and two small lakes. Two other lakes (116.2 and 74.7 ha) located very close to a tributary of the Berelekh River, had disappeared.

The analysis revealed a dramatic loss of lake islands and peninsulas is taking place within the study area. Many isthmuses disappeared, resulting in merging of the lakes. Further, areas of lakeside lowlands decreased, especially of lowlands close to the southern and southwestern shores. In contrast, the area of lowlands between lakes is increasing due to the melting of underground ice and leveling of the meso-relief.

Further, the analysis also found that two sites (squares 41 and 42) 1,350 sq. km each, with a high concentration of Siberian Cranes, showed an increase in water surface area during the past 40-48 years by 121 and 85.5 sq. km. Analysis of spectral characteristics of these two areas (data from the 2000 survey) showed that surface water increase is connected, mainly, with flooding and water rise in lowlands, where nesting territories of Siberian Cranes are usually located. 

The authors believe that these changes are related to increased global temperatures and suggest that Siberian Crane habitat may be reduced considerably in the future due to climate change and may become a serious threat to the species’ existence.

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