Blog: Bogs, Fungi and Methane: Discovering the Hidden Treasures of Western Siberia

6th October 2020

The summer departs and the days shorten, the mornings cool and the earth moistens, so it was a very apt time to host our recent ‘Bogs, Fungi and Methane: Discovering the Hidden Treasures of Western Siberia’ webinar. The first in a new UK-Russia Arctic Science Links series organised jointly by the NERC Arctic Office and the UK Science and Innovation Network in Russia, these short, informal sessions are aimed at connecting researchers in the UK with new potential collaborators across Russia.

Our speakers in this first session were from Yugra State University which lies at the heart of Western Siberia, in the city of Khanty Mansyisk. The region encompasses huge expanses of forest, taiga and tundra, ranging from the semi-arid regions in the south, right up to true high Arctic conditions in the north. A region that has 70 per cent of global peat deposits. A place of treasures and yet obviously slap bang at the fore-front of climate change. All the speakers are closely involved in the study of that change and keen to deepen their international connections.

Dr Evgeny Zarov, Dr Nina Filippova and Dr Egor Dyukarev are researchers within the university’s UNESCO chair “Environmental Dynamics and Global Climate Changes”. They gave a fascinating introduction to their work on the terrestrial changes, the fungi communities and greenhouse gas fluxes in the region. I was struck – as I often am – by the depth of the commitment to long-term monitoring of change, specialist infrastructure, the deep desire to share knowledge of the region and to welcome international colleagues to share their work.

The university together with their Russian partners is developing a new ambitious mega-project, focused on the Ob-Irtysh rivers catchment area, bringing together a range of different disciplines across a vast south-north transect stretching up to the rivers’ entrance to the Arctic in the Kara Sea. The project leads are keen to explore opportunities for engaging international research partners in the framework of this project – opening up really good avenues for new research collaborations. We’re very much keeping our fingers crossed for the success of their bid.

We’re really keen to hear your ideas for future events. If there is a region in Russia you would like to know more about; if you have Russian colleagues who you think would like to showcase their research; or there are UK-Russia links that you would like to highlight or develop further, please do let us know. All your thoughts are very welcome. Link to Survey.

Thank you again to all the speakers and the over 50 participants who joined for the presentations and took part in the discussion. A recording of the webinar, including the speakers’ presentations and the subsequent discussion are available here

Passcode: IQ5+JH%+  .

Too many highlights to mention, but I won’t forget the point raised in the discussion that apparently fungi can produce ice-nucleating particles, which I guess means that autumn truly does bring the winter!

The next seminar is focused on Tomsk State University,  10am 22 October.