The Irkutsk Region is one of the largest scientific centres in Siberia. Sixteen academic institutions and nine institutions of higher education organise and conduct basic and applied research here. The Irkutsk Division of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which provides interaction between scientific and educational institutions with the government and the real sector of the economy, began its work in 2019.
Megascience class projects are being implemented in the region. The Baikal Neutrino Telescope (Baikal-GVD) is one of these projects. It is being built and collecting data within an international collaboration led by the Institute for Nuclear Research of the Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow) – the founding father of this experiment and of neutrino astronomy in the world – and the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (Dubna). The project involves more than 70 scientists and engineers from 11 research centres in Russia, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Kazakhstan. The telescope will contribute to the detection of ultra-high energy neutrino sources. The Baikal Telescope will also serve as the foundation for the development of neutrino astronomy and astrophysics.
Russia’s largest project, the National Heliogeophysical Complex of the Russian Academy of Sciences, is also under way. This is a project of the Institute of Solar-Terrestrial Physics SB RAS to solve fundamental and applied problems in the field of solar and near-Earth space physics. The project of NGK RAS includes the construction of seven unique facilities: a radioheliograph in the Tunkinskaya Valley at Badary tract, a set of optical instruments in the Tunkinskaya Valley near Tory village, a lidar and radar complex at Maly Sea, a large solar telescope at the Sayan Solar Observatory near Mondy village, a heating stand near Angarsk and a data processing centre in Irkutsk.
Much attention is being paid to Lake Baikal. The institutes are developing the “Baikal region: society and nature” atlas, a major project of the Ministry of Education and Science of Russia “Fundamental bases, methods and technologies of digital monitoring and forecasting of environmental conditions of Baikal natural territory” has been implemented since 2020 – it involves almost all academic institutes of Irkutsk, as well as from Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Ulan-Ude.
Since October 2021, the Irkutsk scientists together with their colleagues from research institutes are involved in the “The impact of changes in the water level of Lake Baikal on the lake ecosystem, the definition of damage to the economy and infrastructure of the coastal area of the Republic of Buryatia, Irkutsk region, depending on the lake levels and discharges of the Irkutsk hydro power plant” project. Academic institutions of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences from Irkutsk, Angarsk and Ulan-Ude participate in the work. These include the Institute of Geography named after V. B. Socha, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences. V. B. Sochava Institute of Geography, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, L. A. Melentiev Institute of Energy Systems. L. A. Melentiev SB RAS, Limnological Institute SB RAS, East Siberian Institute of Medical and Ecological Research, Baikal Institute of Nature Management SB RAS, Institute of General and Experimental Biology SB RAS and Geological Institute SB RAS (Ulan-Ude). The Irkutsk State University (Irkutsk), State Hydrological Institute (St. Petersburg) and the Yuri Izrael Institute for Global Climate and Ecology (Moscow) of Roshydromet, the Baikal branch of the Russian Federal Fisheries Agency (Ulan-Ude) are also involved. The project is overseen by the V.M. Matrosov Institute of System Dynamics and Control Theory of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Irkutsk.
The Baikal Research and Education Centre became one of the 15 world-class research and education centres in 2021. In cooperation with the Republic of Buryatia, Baikal will work in the areas of integrated wood processing, industrial waste, as well as in the development of biopharma and medical technologies.
The construction of the National Baikal Aquarium Museum is planned. This Baikal Museum project will raise the profile of the Irkutsk region and Lake Baikal as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and, in general, will lead to positive social and economic changes in the Irkutsk region and the Baikal region.