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Depth of snow cover map

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Snow cover depth

Mapping fields of snow cover, as well as any geographical fields, are characterized by their spatial and temporal patterns on topological, regional and planetary levels. Information about snow cover is mainly represented by measurements at meteorological stations located in homogeneous standard locations. Snow covers countless diverse landscapes, the characteristics of which are not reflected in meteorological information. Therefore, the primary issue of snow cover mapping is substantiation of its spatial and temporal changes. This goal was achieved by the search of further information through the real data links with better known characteristics of geospace. This approach is implemented on the principles of geographical similarity of processes and statistical regularities.

There was a need to solve a number of other key issues. The first one is dictated by current climate warming. We have complete information on snow cover only till warming, according to the data from references representing measurements for the period up to 1968 [References..., …1968]. Other publications include maps of individual components of snow cover of the late 20th century [Atlas of Irkutsk oblast, 1962; Cisbaikalia and Transbaikalia, 1965; Atlas of Transbaikalia, 1967]. At the same time, thanks to the field work within the Baikal- Mongolia region and personal contacts of the authors, there was an opportunity to get acquainted with climate data of 1951-2010 and 1976-2010 in Transbaikalia and Mongolia, and, accordingly, to fix a tendency of temporarily change of parameters of snow cover in the up-to-date period.

The snow cover of the Baikal basin is formed inhomogenously. Its height decreases from the northeast of the Lena-Angara plateau (50-80 cm) to 5-10 cm in the vast plains of Mongolia and Transbaikalia. This is caused by the interaction of powerful north-eastern air flows with weakened Pacific ones, as well as by precipitation increasing with the altitude and by an increase in the share of their solid constituents. Therefore, in the valleys the snow depth is small, and in the mountains of Cisbaikalia and on the Stanovoe highland it reaches up to 60-100 cm.

Continuous snow cover is typical for the whole Baikal basin, but due to wind transport within basins with inversions, on the windward and leeward slopes it occurs unevenly. These factors make it difficult to reflect its spatial and temporal state, which is traced according to the data of the snow cover measurements. So, on the shores of Lake Baikal within 460-500 m there are about 70 meteorological stations, and on the slopes of the ranges there are no more than 5 stations. This factor defined the search for correlations of the measurement data of snow depth with better studied factors: with precipitation of the cold period, and with altitudes of the area. In this respect, the snow cover was analyzed at least on 900 meteorological stations within the entire Baikal-Mongolian region and adjacent territories. At the same time, a geographical-functional approach to spatial and temporal analysis of the snow cover was developed. Particular attention was given to determining the depth of snow on the slopes of different exposures. On the windward slopes the snow depths increase up to 70 cm at 1500 m of true altitude and up to 125 cm at 2000 m. Within the goletz zone on the leeward slopes the snow cover is constantly reducing up to 7-12 cm at 2000 m. On the plains its average height ranges from 30 to 40 cm. The exception is provided by the Mongolian Plateau, where in February and March, the snow depth does not exceed a few centimeters. It should be emphasized that in snowy winters the snow occurrence over 23-35 cm is covered by ice coating: due to fodder shortage in 2010 the number of livestock in Mongolia decreased from 40 to 28 million.

All contemporary background information is presented in references on climate, published at the end of the last century; after that the planetary warming came. Therefore a map of snow depths based on the data obtained till 1968 was compiled. Further, a correlation between the components of the snow cover of the last century with contemporary data for the warming period (1976-2010) is revealed. Using this approach, the opportunity to evaluate the past changes in snow cover over recent decades presented itself.

From 1975 to 2010, the average annual temperatures increased by 2ºC in extremely arid deserts of southern Mongolia, and by 1ºC in the northern mountain Transbaikalia. However, in Northern Transbaikalia the growth ΣT ≥ 10ºC turned out to be more, i.e. 600ºC, and in arid deserts only 200ºC. In the mountain-taiga landscapes the precipitation remained intact and in arid landscapes it decreased. Consequently, the height of the snow cover in the mountain-taiga landscapes decreased, and the avalanche danger became less threatening. At the same time Mongolian ice coating in Dauria became more active. Livestock deaths increased. Thus, according to the identified correlations, the snow cover map compiled according to the data till 1968 can be considered a basic one.

Regional peculiarity of snow depth formation should be emphasized. First of all, it is dictated by the meeting of wet air masses with the surface of mountain slopes. It is possible to distinguish graphically the snow accumulation on the windward and leeward slopes. Air masses, transporting over the water surface of rivers and lakes, are saturated with water and enhance the amount of snow on opposite slopes. These are the locations of weather stations near Vydrino, Snezhnaya, Tankhoi, Vorontsovka and others. The effect of windward and leeward slopes is leveled by depression inversion and generally irregular dynamics of air masses. The data of meteorological stations are more reliable. On their basis, the reading of snow changes according to the generalized spatial and temporal altitudinal gradient is carried out. So, at the levels of 1000 and 1500 m, the snow depth is 58 - 90 and 56 - 86 cm on the north-western slope and on the south-eastern slope, respectively.

References

Atlas of Irkutsk oblast. (1968). Moscow-Irkutsk: Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography, 182 p.

Atlas of Transbaikalia. (1967). Moscow-Irkutsk: Main Department of Geodesy and Cartography, 176 p.

Atlas of Cisbaikalia and Transbaikalia. (1965). Moscow: Izd-vo "Nauka", 485 p.

Atlas: The economic potential of the Republic of Tuva. (2005). Kyzyl: TuvIKOPR SO RAN, 60 p.

Climate Handbooks. (1968). Leningrad: Gidrometeoizdat, vol. 21-23.

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Digestive system diseases map

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Healthcare

Harsh climatic conditions across the entire territory of the Baikal basin and the surface and ground water used for drinking and food purposes that do not meet the drinking water quality standards (first and foremost in Mongolia and Buryatia) coupled with atmospheric emissions from industrial facilities and motor vehicles (in some parts of the territory) are responsible for the state of human health influencing the organization of healthcare. The ecological situation becomes substantially worse during winter months, which is encouraged by the topography of the terrain. In Mongolia, the spring period is very hard time to bear, with sharp temperature differences, abrupt variations in atmospheric pressure, and frequent dust and magnetic storms.

The organizational pattern of healthcare in Russia and Mongolia has much in common. This is a result of the cooperation of the two countries in this sphere and the fact that medical education and healthcare in Mongolia are organized using Russian experience. Today, Mongolian medical facilities operate on the principles of the state-private partnership concurrent with the demonopolization of the state system of medical services. The country has a mandatory and voluntary medical insurance system, in which state-owned and private medical institutions take part. The country also has various health institutes and centers.

The territory of the Baikal basin is experiencing a deficit of medical workers. As of 2012, the availability of physicians varied from 13.8 to 30.1 per 10,000 people in Russian districts and from 16.1 to 29.0 per 10,000 people in Mongolian aimags. The availability of nurses varies from 25.1 to 112.2 per 10,000 people in Russian districts and from 26.4 to 38.2 per 10,000 people in Mongolian aimags. In Ulan-Ude, these indicators have the values of 53.9 and 117.3, while in Ulaanbaatar – 44.1 and 41.2, respectively.

The ratio of doctors and nurses in the Russian part of the basin is between 1:2 to 1:4, while in the Mongolian part it does not exceed 1:2. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that this ratio should be 1:4. A narrowing of this indicator causes imbalances in the healthcare system thereby limiting possibilities for further development of the after-treatment, casework and rehabilitation services.

Target indicators of healthcare activity are the standard volume of medical care per inhabitant. Currently, there are plans to decrease the per capita volume of in-patient services and increase the per capita volume of the hospital-replacing care. Accordingly, the number of hospital beds available 27/7 will decrease, while the number of beds in day hospitals will grow. Overall, the available number of hospital beds complies with the calculated standards and meets the demand of the population for the in-patient medical aid.

As of today, in Russia, there is an array of problems relating to the high level of illnesses and disability incidences among the population, and these indicators are continuously growing. Such a situation is the result of inadequate preventive measures. Another important contributing factor to this situation is the increase of the proportion of elderly population and the improved effectiveness of illness detection using new diagnostic methods in the process of the increased number of medical checkups.

The leading illnesses in the structure of morbidity are respiratory illnesses, bloodstream, eye, and digestive and musculoskeletal system diseases, as well as traumas. For many years, circulatory system diseases, neoplasms, and injuries have been the main causes of mortality and disability among the population.

A complex of anthropogenic environmental factors contributes to the growth of morbidity and disability rates among the population with the most important one being air pollution. According to the WHO, atmospheric air pollution is the cause of up to 23% of all illnesses. The amount of pollutant emissions in the atmosphere produced by static sources in different administrative divisions in the Baikal basin differs by more than a thousand times. The most polluted air in the Baikal basin is in the Selenginsky district of Buryatia.

The health of the population and further development of healthcare depend on ecological, social, and economic factors. These problems can be resolved only through comprehensive approaches to the improvement of the quality of life of the population.

The strategic goal of the healthcare systems of Russia and Mongolia is to build a system, which ensures the quality and accessibility of medical services, primarily first aid, and increases the efficiency of medical services, based on the improvement of territorial planning of healthcare. The volume, types, and quality of these services should correspond to the rate of morbidity, population requirements, and the latest achievements of medical science, based on perfecting the system of territorial planning of public health services.

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Distribution of rare animal species. Amphibians map

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Rare species of fauna

The animal kingdom of the Baikal basin is rich and diverse. The basin’s fauna is unique due to a peculiar geographic location of this region, which explains the extreme diversity of the species composition including many genetically and environmentally heterogeneous elements. In this region, the contact and overlapping of many systemically and ecologically close species and subspecies take place. A large number of forms is represented by the periphery and even isolated populations preserved in the local refugiums since the last glacial period. As a rule, all these species are relatively rare and small in number, and their habitats cover a small territory. Therefore, all of them have been listed in the Red Books and require special protection.

A series of maps of this section provides an insight about the spread of rare species of animals grouped according to their systematic features into separate categories: fish, amphibians and reptiles, birds and mammals. The maps show the main habitats of rare species based on the literature and museum collection research, as well as personal observations of the authors. The maps also show home ranges of certain species.

More than 60 species of fish live in rivers and water bodies of the Baikal basin with half of them being endemic or relict species. The indigenous ichthyofauna of the Baikal basin’s rivers and lakes formed on the basis of the species of the boreal piedmont, boreal lowland, and arctic freshwater complexes; only the Siberian sturgeon and tench are remnants of the ancient late Tertiary faunal complex. Species representing other faunal complexes got into these water bodies as a result of introduction or invasion. In Lake Baikal, the level of endemism reaches 55% of all fish species, which is indicative of the autochthonous nature of the formation of the nucleus of the lake’s ichthyofauna. Only 10 species of fish are found in Lake Khovsgol, with half of them being valuable commercial fishery species. More than a half of the fish species listed in the regional Red Books of the Russian Federation and Mongolia are valuable commercial fishery species. However, their number has been significantly reduced due to the intensive human economic activities over the past 100 years. Overfishing, construction of hydro-technical facilities, and water body pollution negatively impacted their population and resulted in the partial loss of habitat. Today, 15 fish species in the Baikal basin require protection and artificial breeding in order to restore their number.

The Baikal basin is characterized by a low diversity of species of the herpetofauna (altogether about 20 species) due to harsh weather conditions in the region and the history of faunal formation. On the other hand, the basin is a place of contact of the habitats of the Western and Eastern Palearctic species, while representatives of the Central Asian and Daur-Mongolian fauna are wedging in from the south. Half of the species inhabiting this area are located on the periphery of their habitats. Anthropogenic transformation of habitats, drainage and contamination of water bodies, frequent fires, high recreational stress, and extermination by humans decrease the number and fragment the habitats of many herpetofauna species. At present, four amphibian species and six reptile species need protection.

Peculiarity of natural landscapes, climatic and geomorphological conditions, and the historical process of the formation of the ornithofauna resulted in its species diversity. The nucleus of the structure of the population of the basin’s ornithofauna is composed by representatives of the Siberian, Mongolian, Chinese, European and Arctic types of fauna. Transpalearctic species also make up a sizable proportion. Species of the Tibetan and Mediterranean types of fauna make up only a small share of species. Modern ornithofauna of the Baikal basin includes over 400 species; about 100 of them need protection. Human economic activity ambiguously impacts the structure of the ornithofauna. Transformation of the environment as a result of logging, fires, overgrazing, or steppe ploughing may decrease the number of some species, but, on the other hand, it may expand the habitats or the number of other species. Stenobiontic species are affected by economic activity the most. Transformation of habitats, changes in the hydrological regime of certain rivers and Lake Baikal, poaching, logging, fires, and technogenic emissions, all against the backdrop of fluctuations of environmental and climatic conditions, result in the decrease of diversity and number of the majority of bird species.

The fauna of mammals is quite specific and diverse including over 90 species. Many of these species are located on the periphery of their ranges. The modern mammal fauna of the basin is represented by almost 20 faunulas, the largest of which in terms of the number of species are the following: the Holarctic arctic boreal, taiga Palearctic, western Palearctic taiga, Holarctic tundra and golets, steppe southern Palearctic, and Central Asian elements, as well as the East Asian and southern Palearctic flying mammals. A small number of species of the basin either acclimatized or followed the humans. Compared to other animals, mammals are more affected by the direct anthropogenic impact. Thus, the majority of mammals listed as rare species in the near past were or still are considered as game animals, but their population was sharply reduced due to unregulated hunting and poaching. It is not uncommon that the activities aimed at preventing zoonotic infectious diseases led to a sharp decrease of infection hosts – rodents. Logging, steppe ploughing, overgrazing, frequent fires, and the fragmentation of natural territories devastatingly impacted the majority of mammalian species inhabiting the Baikal basin. Therefore, over 30 species now require special protection and reproduction.

The Red Books of the Russian Federation (2008) and Mongolia (1997), as well as regional Red Books of Irkutsk oblast (2010), Republic of Buryatia (2013), and Zabaikalsky krai (2012) were created to protect rare and endangered species. The categories set forth in the Red Book of the Russian Federation (2008) were used as a basis for the development of the regional categories of rarity and the degree of endangerment. Minor amendments were introduced to reflect regional characteristics of the biota. In particular, two regional categories (VI) and (VII) were included due to geographic features of the Republic of Buryatia (location near state border, existence of major biogeographic boundaries and important migration routes, and so on). The categories of the IUCN were used for rare species of vertebrate animals in Mongolia.

 

References

The Red Book of Zabaikalsky krai: Animals. (2012). Novosibirsk: Novosibirsk Publishing. p 344.

The Red Book of Irkutsk oblast (2010). Irkutsk: Wind of Travel Publishing. p 480.

The Red Book of the Republic of Buryatia: Rare and endangered species of animals, plants, and mushrooms. (2013). Ulan-Ude: BSC SB RAS Publishing. p 688.

The Red Book of the Russian Federation: Animals. (2001). Moscow: Astrel. p 862.

Mongolian Red List of birds. (2006). Ulaanbaatar: ADMON Printing. p 1036.

Mongolian Red List of fish. (2006). Ulaanbaatar: ADMON Printing. p 68.

Mongolian Red List of mammals. (2006). Ulaanbaatar: ADMON Printing. p 96.

Mongolian Red List of reptiles and amphibians. (2006). Ulaanbaatar: ADMON Printing. p 68.

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