EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

The link between precipitation and recent outbreak of anthrax in North-West Siberia

Ekaterina Ezhova1, Dmitry Orlov2, Elli Suhonen1, Dmitry Kaverin3, Alexander Mahura1, Victor Gennadinik4, Ilmo Kukkonen5, Dmitry Drozdov4,6,7, Hanna Lappalainen1, Vladimir Melnikov4,6,8, Tuukka Petäjä1, Veli-Matti Kerminen1, Sergey Zilitinkevich1,4,9, Svetlana Malkhazova2, Torben Christensen10, and Markku Kulmala1
Ekaterina Ezhova et al.
  • 1INAR/Physics, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 2Faculty of Geography, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
  • 3Institute of Biology of Komi Science Center of Russian Academy of Science, Syktyvkar, Russia
  • 4International Centre of Cryology and Cryosophy, University of Tyumen, Tyumen, Russia
  • 5Department of Geosciences and Geography, Faculty of Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
  • 6Institute of Earth Cryosphere, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia
  • 7Faculty of Engineering Geology, Russian State Geological Prospecting University, Moscow, Russia
  • 8Department of Earth Cryology, Industrial University of Tyumen, Tyumen, Russia
  • 9Finnish Meteorological Institute, Helsinki, Finland
  • 10Department of Bioscience, Arctic Research Centre, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Anthrax is a bacterial disease affecting mainly livestock but also posing a risk for humans. During the outbreak of anthrax on Yamal peninsula in 2016, 36 humans were infected and more than 2.5 thousand reindeer died or were killed to prevent further contamination [1]. Anthrax is a natural focal disease, which means that its agents depend on climatic conditions. The revival of bacteria in previously epidemiologically stable region was attributed to thawing permafrost, intensified during the heat wave of 2016. We studied recent dynamics of air temperature as well as summer and winter precipitation in the region. In addition, we analysed the effect of winter precipitation and air temperature on the dynamics of active layer thickness using data from Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring sites [2]. Our analysis suggests that permafrost was thawing intensively during several years before the outbreak, when snowy cold winters followed warmer winters. Thick snow prevented soil from freezing and enhanced permafrost thawing. In addition, we showed that summer precipitation drastically decreased in the region of outbreak during recent years, likely contributing to the spread of disease.  

[1] Popova, A.Yu. et al. Outbreak of Anthrax in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District in 2016, Epidemiological Peculiarities. Problemy Osobo Opasnykh Infektsii [Problems of Particularly Dangerous Infections]. 4, 42–46 (2016).

[2] Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring site: [2/08/2019].

How to cite: Ezhova, E., Orlov, D., Suhonen, E., Kaverin, D., Mahura, A., Gennadinik, V., Kukkonen, I., Drozdov, D., Lappalainen, H., Melnikov, V., Petäjä, T., Kerminen, V.-M., Zilitinkevich, S., Malkhazova, S., Christensen, T., and Kulmala, M.: The link between precipitation and recent outbreak of anthrax in North-West Siberia, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-10449,, 2020.

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