It’s time to revise construction on permafrost standards

It’s time to revise construction on permafrost standards

May 23, 2021

Leading Russian scientists visited Norilsk.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. Nornickel strengthens monitoring of the condition of industrial buildings and structures and engages the leading institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences to address issues related to soil thawing.

Scientists studying permafrost in the regions of the Far North believe that it is necessary to revise building codes and methods of work in order to prevent possible risks associated with soil thawing. Otherwise, the northern territories may not be ready for the problems associated with warming.

Permafrost should be controlled

Scientists from the Institute of Applied Mechanics and the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering, who came to Norilsk at the invitation of Nornickel, said that they have solutions and technologies that can help to safely operate buildings in conditions of global warming.

“The country is now facing a new global challenge. This challenge is associated with climate warming, more precisely, with temperature changes in the Northern Hemisphere. As climatologists testify, in the last 15–20 years, temperatures have been increasing rapidly, and in the territory of the Russian Federation – ahead of schedule”, said Mikhail Korolev, deputy director of the Institute of Applied Mechanics of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Permafrost soils occupy about 63 percent of the territory of the Russian Federation. They are the foundation of all structures, and their properties – strength and deformability – strongly depend on temperature: the colder, the stronger.

“The existing infrastructure in the northern regions is starting to crack due to temperature changes. Approximately 75 percent of buildings and structures are built on the principle of preserving permafrost. That is, houses are built on piles, which are frozen into the ground, a ventilated underground is made, and the structure is erected further. But now the permafrost area is rapidly decreasing. The depth of seasonal thawing and freezing also changes. If in your region fluctuations of positive and negative temperatures during the summer-winter period occurred somewhere at a depth of two meters, now it is at four or six meters. The soils themselves used to have a temperature of minus six degrees, but now it has risen to minus 2.5”, the scientist said.

Mikhail Korolyov emphasized that a change in temperature even by one degree often leads to a 50 percent loss in the bearing capacity of the piles.

“In ordinary soils, deformation develops quite quickly. And in frozen ones it can develop over several decades”.

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Text: Angelica Stepanova, Photo: Nikolay Shchipko, Olga Polyanskaya and the press service of Nornickel

May 23, 2021

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