The prospect of Siberian winters sending a chill down people's spines may not hold true for long given the threat posed to them by global warming according to experts at the University of Leicester.
The Climate and Land Surface Systems Interaction Centre at the University of Leicester is hosting an international scientific Symposium on "Environmental change in Siberia Insights from Earth Observation and modeling" from 18-20 September 2006.
Professor Heiko Balzter, who has studied satellite images of Siberia for the past eight years, said: "Siberia is a global hotspot in the climate system. Because the Siberian ecosystems are largely temperature controlled the region is strongly affected by global warming. Large amounts of greenhouse gases are currently locked in the permafrost and in organic soils, and if released could accelerate the greenhouse effect."
Professor Balzter, of the Department of Geography, said the Symposium would bring together Russian, British and European scientists from different disciplines to develop new information systems for scientists and policy makers.
"The participants want to assess the magnitude and remaining uncertainties of environmental change in Siberia. The Siberian land mass has a profound impact on the climate in the Northern Hemisphere, and large-scale changes like the melting of permafrost or an increase in extreme forest fire years could potentially accelerate global climate change."
At the University of Leicester around 30 participating scientists from the UK, Russia, Austria, France, Italy and Germany will present new findings on the rapid environmental changes occurring in Siberia. They will use new satellite data of the vast forest tracts of Siberia in conjunction with Earth System models to provide evidence of the state of the environment.
On the agenda are: