Analysis and Commentary
Соколов Владимир Тимофеевич
© From personal archive

Vladimir Sokolov: The Mys Baranova ice base is designed to survey Arctic pollution

Russian scientists are watching closely the ecological state of the Arctic. Head of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute’s High-Latitude Arctic Expedition, Vladimir Sokolov, told Arctic.ru about the Mys Baranova ice base and its extensive investigations in the high-latitude zone.

Mr  Sokolov, what is your job at the Institute?

My job is to organize and control expeditionary investigations in the high-latitude Arctic.

What investigations are pursued by the Mys Baranova ice base? The research was only launched in 2013. Before that the base was mothballed. Why was the launch delayed for so long?

Yes, the base was mothballed in 1996 and reactivated in June 2013. The government had no money to support it. Currently seven bases are inactive in the Arctic.

Are you planning to reactivate the rest?

No, there is no money for that. This particular station has been revived because we had to wind down the North Pole drifting station program. We did this because of the destruction of the Arctic ice cover and the impossibility to find ice fields capable of supporting the stations' year-long secure operation in the high latitudes. Therefore, we sent the Yamal nuclear icebreaker to a preplanned destination, Mys Baranova, where it let off a team of researchers that started the reactivation and exploration. Three months later, we let off a winter crew and it started full-scale operations.

Do you conduct year-round investigations?

Yes, they are pursuing large-scale investigations, focusing on the atmosphere, the ice cover, and things related to oceanography. In addition, microbiological, medical and biological, hydrological, ecological and ornithological research is in progress.

Do you employ only Russian staff? Are you planning to invite foreigners?

Yes, only Russian staff. In principle, foreigners can also work there — we've obtained the Institute's permission. Earlier this year, we and the Finnish Meteorological Institute deployed a joint atmospheric pollution surveillance system. It started operating within a week of deployment and now we receive an extensive information stream from it.

Is this base likely to imperil the Arctic environment?

The human race is generally a threat to nature. There is no doubt about that. In this case, we have a high-latitude Arctic observatory designed, among other things, to survey environmental pollution in the region. This is one of its main tasks — to survey pollution rather than spread it.