The perception of permafrost thaw in the Sakha Republic (Russia): Narratives, culture and risk in the face of climate change

Elsevier, Polar Science, Volume 26, December 2020
Doloisio N., Vanderlinden J.-P.

This article focuses on the social representations of permafrost thaw among people who were born in different regions of the Sakha Republic (Russia) and live in the regional capital city of Yakutsk. Our research aims to obtain a better understanding of the new risk patterns associated to permafrost thaw through the collection and subsequent analysis of narratives of personal experiences in order to identify the main concerns, how these are defined and which coping strategies are considered by local inhabitants. Our respondents insightfully characterized the nature of the multiple interrelated processes and associations that they identified. According to locals' grasp, climate change and permafrost thaw's impacts exceed the merely physical and material dimensions, unchaining simultaneous and deep transformations in their culture. More specifically, physical degradation threatens their symbolic representations, the material practices and the emotional ties that they have developed in that specific land. They also expressed the need for potential mitigation strategies at both a regional and local scale.