Research Associate Artyom Gusarov studied a vast array of erosion data to make a general takeaway that soil erosion and river sediment load in the aforementioned region has significantly decreased throughout the post-Soviet period.
"The decrease has been especially profound in the forest steppe, a part of which covers the Republic of Tatarstan, because of the combined influence of climate change and land cultivation," explains Gusarov. "To the north of the forest steppe, in the southern part of the boreal zone, the anthropogenic factor was the primary influence on the changes in soil erosion, at least in the east of the East European Plain. Here, the reduction of cultivated land was the biggest in the post-Soviet time. In the steppes, the primary role can be attributed to climate change, especially the warming of the near-soil air, which led to decreased frosting of soils during winters, and, therefore, decreased erosion-inducing sediment from tillage."
The research shows that there is a complex intertwining between seemingly negative socio-economic developments and environmental conditions.
"The recession of agriculture in contemporary Russia, including decreases in tillage areas, numbers of agricultural machines, livestock population, etc., led to decreased soil and ravine erosion in the region, decreased river sediment load and concomitant pollution," says Gusarov.
The results are very important for the comprehensive planning of soil preservation, hydrogeological construction, and artificial water bodies. Artyom Gusarov aims to continue this research, now moving to the northern part of the East European Plain and the rivers running into the Arctic Ocean.