Nikolai Drozdov: The Arctic ice keeps melting, and humans are contributing to this process
Mr. Drozdov, establishing international contacts will be one of the Open Arctic-2016 expedition's goals. What do you think about the current level of international cooperation in this area?
I'm not sure how it's done in other countries, but a large Russian delegation went to Spitsbergen last April, which was our specific contribution to the cause. Back then, we held the first International Arctic Forum on the Protection of the Arctic in the town of Longyearbyen. There were about 50 Russian delegates there, the entire organizing committee. We took aboard our plane representatives from Serbia and Cyprus, as well as delegates from 42 Russian regions.
The event took place only in one city last year?
No, we went to Barentsburg, which wasn't so easy, because skiing or driving there is out of question in the winter. So, we had to fly a helicopter, as a plane couldn't land there either. We wanted to show the harsh living conditions of the local miners.
We brought a large Russian flag of about 1,000 square meters. The locals helped us stream it. It looked great. We inspired them and made it clear to them that we remember those who work far from their homeland.
Hero of Russia Vyacheslav Bocharov was one of the leaders of the delegation. He is a former serviceman, and now serves as Deputy Secretary of the Civic Chamber. One morning, he showed up on the beach and went for a swim when the outside temperature was 10 degrees Celsius below zero.
What are your plans for 2016?
This year, the working group will go to Iceland, where we plan to meet with the Ambassador and the university administration. We are going to sign an agreement to hold the next event in 2017, the Year of Ecology. In 2017, we plan to hold a similar environmental forum in Nuuk, Greenland.
A motor rally is planned as part of the expedition, is that correct?
There will be several rallies. There will be a KamAZ truck rally in Europe. Bikers plan to ride their bikes to a port, and then take a ferry to Iceland. Imagine, the first-ever KamAZ truck in Iceland.
What do you think about global warming? Some experts argue that global warming is a myth. According to them, ice melting is a cyclical phenomenon: it is now melting, but will grow back later. What do you think?
It may be a cyclical thing, but who knows what will happen next. Cycles are there to stay but the ice keeps melting, and humans are contributing to this process: thousands of tons of pollutants are released into the atmosphere each year. Dust and ashes land on the ice and accelerate the melting process. The snow's reflective property (albedo) is weakening, so it now heats up and melts at a faster pace.
According to researchers, the area of ice in the Arctic had reached its all-time minimum. Is that also caused by humans?
Yes, the ice area is shrinking. Even ships now have less trouble going along the Northern Sea Route — there's no major ice clogging. The sailors and merchant ship owners are happy, but they don't realize that this is an environmental disaster, and bears may become extinct because of this. In summer, the bears move between Franz Josef Archipelago and Wrangel Island. In winter, the females go there to breed, so, naturally, there must be a bridge between the main ice sheet and these islands. With the advent of global warming, male and female bears may find themselves separated by a water opening up to 100 kilometers wide, and they won't be able to cover such a distance in order to procreate. It may so happen that the females will get stranded on the islands without food, while the males will get stuck with the seals on ice floes.