Despite the growth in knowledge about the effects of a warming Arctic on its cold-adapted species, the mechanisms by which these changes affect animal populations remain poorly understood. Increasing temperatures, declining sea ice and altered wind and precipitation patterns all may affect the fitness and abundance of species through multiple direct and indirect pathways. Here we demonstrate previously unknown effects of rain-on-snow (ROS) events, winter precipitation, and ice tidal surges on the Arctic's largest land mammal. Using novel field data across seven years and three Alaskan and Russian sites, we show arrested skeletal growth in juvenile muskoxen resulting from unusually dry winter conditions and gestational ROS events, with the inhibitory effects on growth from ROS events lasting up to three years post-partum. Further, we describe the simultaneous entombment of 52 muskoxen in ice during a Chukchi Sea winter tsunami (ivuniq in Iñupiat), and link rapid freezing to entrapment of Arctic whales and otters. Our results illustrate how once unusual, but increasingly frequent Arctic weather events affect some cold-adapted mammals, and suggest that an understanding of species responses to a changing Arctic can be enhanced by coalescing groundwork, rare events, and insights from local people.
In the last few decades extreme heat events have led to substantial excess mortality, most dramatically in Central Europe in 2003, in Russia in 2010, and even in typically cool locations such as Vancouver, Canada, in 2009. Heat-related morbidity and mortality is expected to increase over the coming centuries as the result of climate-driven global increases in the severity and frequency of extreme heat events. Spatial information on heat exposure and population vulnerability may be combined to map the areas of highest risk and focus mitigation efforts there. However, a mismatch in spatial resolution between heat exposure and vulnerability data can cause spatial scale issues such as the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP). We used a raster-based model to integrate heat exposure and vulnerability data in a multi-criteria decision analysis, and compared it to the traditional vector-based model. We then used the Getis-Ord G(i) index to generate spatially smoothed heat risk hotspot maps from fine to coarse spatial scales. The raster-based model allowed production of maps at spatial resolution, more description of local-scale heat risk variability, and identification of heat-risk areas not identified with the vector-based approach. Spatial smoothing with the Getis-Ord G(i) index produced heat risk hotspots from local to regional spatial scale. The approach is a framework for reducing spatial scale issues in future heat risk mapping, and for identifying heat risk hotspots at spatial scales ranging from the block-level to the municipality level.
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The occurring climate changes have a considerable impact on human health. The higher frequency of different natural disasters, including flood and typhoons, deteriorates the epidemiological situation. Evidence is provided for the importance of climate warming as a risk factor for a number of communicable diseases, including West Nile fever in the Astrakhan and Volgograd Regions. The paper presents the results of analytical epidemiological surveys, by using the time-series analysis, in Tver and Moscow, which indicate an increase in the number of fatal outcomes particularly among the elderly during temperature heat and cold waves. The specific features of the impact of climate warming on human health in the northern and southern regions of the country are considered. The need for developing the National Plan of Actions to prevent the population's health from climate changes is warranted.