In eastern Siberia, in Russia, there is the largest depression in the world caused by thermokarst, i.e. due to the thawing of the permafrost, the ground which in cold regions is perpetually frozen and which has begun to thaw due to climate change and human activities. It is known as ‘Batagaika Crater’ and was recently captured by a drone, with images showing that the depression is continuing to get bigger and deeper as time goes on.
The Batagaika crater it reaches a maximum width of almost a kilometer with a depth of about 100 meters. The land in that area began to sink around the 1960s, when a dense forest that covered the area was cleared, resulting in a greater exposure of the permafrost to the sun’s rays.
Over the years, some floods would have further favored the enlargement of the depression, with the formation of an extremely unstable edge with continuous landslides and the fall of material inside the crater. These phenomena have meant that the crater continued to expand and to do so with relative speed, also due to the increase in the average temperature in Siberia.
According to the data collected and compared with historical series, many areas of Russia are experiencing the effects of climate change more than others, with temperatures rising approximately 2.5 times faster than the rest of the world.
The increase in temperature causes the permafrost, which covers about 65 percent of the whole country, to thaw. The process leads to the production of enormous quantities of carbon dioxide which was trapped in the soil, and which thus contributes to the greenhouse effect, aggravating its consequences.
Nikia Tananayev who works at the Melnikov Permafrost Institute in Yakutsk, the capital of the Russian republic Sakha-Yakutia, he said to Reuters: ‘In the future, as temperatures rise due to human activities, we will see more and more mega-depressions form, until all the permafrost is gone.’ The phenomenon is already underway and in past years it was one of the causes of the great fires in Siberia and the instability of the soil on which camps and cities had been built over the centuries.