Russians Adapt to a Freezing, Dark, and Polluted Place

Despite the extreme climate conditions, the inhabitants of Norilsk have adjusted to life above the polar circle.

How do people adapt to life in one of the most polluted cities in the world, in sub-zero temperatures, during extended periods with no daylight?

Photographer Elena Chernyshova recently set out to explore those questions in Norilsk, Russia, a city of more than 170,000 people located above the polar circle.

Norilsk is home to a massive mining and metallurgical complex—workers extract and process vast amounts of nickel, copper, and cobalt, making up more than 2 percent of Russia’s GDP. But the history of the area is bleak. Soviets originally profited from the area’s resources through Gulag labor. From 1935 to 1956 more than 500,000 prisoners were forced to work in the freezing cold under inhumane conditions. Many died. Now, most

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