Paleoclimatology in Russia: recent progress and urgent needs
Climate changes, their regional patterns, origin, and prediction are currently one of the most important scientific challenges. The functioning of the Earth climate system has a profound influence on the society development and human prosperity. The discrimination of human-induced and natural climate variability is one of the most urgent tasks and it cannot be solved using only the short instrumental meteorological observations and climate modeling experiments. Proxy records (tree rings, lake and marine sediments, ice cores, corals etc.) can be used to put into prospective to some extent the instrumental climatic records. Proxies can reach annual and seasonal resolution and they are useful for the large networks covering the areas of continental and even global scale. They can be calibrated against the instrumental data and this way they provide time series appropriate for the statistical analyses and numerical modeling. At this stage of developing of modern paleoclimatology it is essential to develop reliable regional reconstructions for the last millennia and before in order to increase our understanding of natural climatic variability.
Some of the most informative sources of paleoclimatic information are the ice core archives. However in the very near future many of them are in danger of completely vanishing due to the continued warming. Because of the increasing melting some mountain glaciers disappear. There are some glaciers in Russia where ice cores suitable for paleoclimatic analysis can be recovered. However, these unique archives are threatened by the warming, which in the coming years may delete the climatic signal due to the penetration of melt water into the interior of the glacier. Similarly in danger are other paleoclimatic archives of high resolution due to intense anthropogenic activity (old trees, lake sediments etc.). All of these unique paleoarchives in Russia also need to be rescued through being sampled, analyzed and organizing their proper long-term storage for the future generations. Comprehensive analysis of these paleoarchives will provide an opportunity to quantify variability of temperature (mean annual, summer), variability of precipitation (winter, summer). These reconstructions will allow performing validation of climate models for the last millennium. Thus they will provide a contribution to the solution of the global problem of change of the modern climate.