In pictures: Russian weather station on the edge of melting permafrost

WWF Russia says warming Arctic is accelerating coastal erosion as bigger waves demolish melting permafrost

Vize island weather station on the edge (Pic: WWF Russia)

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The tiny island of Vize in the Kara Sea is fast disappearing as a warming atmosphere melts Arctic sea ice and the Russian permafrost.

That’s the warning from WWF Russia, which has released pictures of what it says is a government weather station about to topple into the sea.

Since 2009 over 70 metres of coastline has been eroded, said glaciologist Alexander Aleynikov, a development he describes as “very impressive”.

Satellite images of Vize island in 2009 and 2016 illustrate the extent of erosion (Pic: WWF Russia)

Satellite images of Vize island in 2009 and 2016 illustrate the extent of erosion (Pic: WWF Russia)

Vize is located in the far north of the Kara Sea, which has traditionally remained frozen for nine months of the year.

According to the US National Snow and Ice Data Center sea ice levels are “well below average” in the Kara Sea this year. The Arctic average sea ice extent is the third lowest since records started.

Temperatures were as much as 3-6C above average in the region, causing significant retreat of ice cover to the northern edges of Svalbard, Franz Josef and the new Siberian Islands.

Along with the weather station, polar bears, walruses and gulls count Vize Island as home (Pic: WWF Russia)

Along with the weather station, polar bears, walruses and gulls count Vize Island as home (Pic: WWF Russia)

One side effect is that waves and resulting coastal erosion is increasing while once-solid areas of permafrost are disintegrating.

“Previously it was thought that the greatest rate of destruction of the coast in Russia and in the world is on the New Siberian Islands, which are wearing away 5-15 meters a year, and sometimes – 20 m after a heavy storm,” said Oksana Lipka, an official at WWF Russia.

“It is likely that on the Vize Island speed of the coast destruction is even higher. It is necessary to continue monitoring.”

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