The Yamal Peninsula in northwest Siberia is undergoing some of the most rapid land-cover and land-use changes in the Arctic due to a combination of gas development, reindeer herding, and climate change. Unusual geological conditions (nutrient-poor sands, massive ground ice and extensive landslides) exacerbate the impacts. These changes will likely increase markedly as transportation corridors are built to transport the gas to market. Understanding the nature, extent, causes and consequences (i.e., the cumulative effects) of the past and ongoing rapid changes on the Yamal is important for effective, long-term decision-making and planning. The cumulative effects to vegetation are the focus of this chapter because the plants are a critical component of the Yamal landscape that support the indigenous Nenets people and their reindeer and also protect the underlying ice-rich permafrost from melting. We are using a combination of ground-based studies (a transect of live locations across the Yamal), remote-sensing studies, and analyses of Nenets land-use activities to develop vegetation-change models that can be used to help anticipate future states of the tundra and how those changes might affect traditional reindeer herding practices and the thermal state of the permafrost. This chapter provides an overview of the approach, some early results, and recommendations for expanding the concept of cumulative-effects analysis to include examining the simultaneous and interactive effects of multiple drivers of change.
New York: Springer Netherlands, 2011. 207-236 p.