Sergey Zimov, an ecologist by training, tossed a woolly mammoth bone on the pile. He was squatting in mud along the cool, wide Kolyma River, below a towering cliff of crumbling earth. It was summer in eastern Siberia, far above the Arctic Circle, in that part of Russia that’s closer to Alaska than to Moscow.
There wasn’t a speck of frost or snow in sight. Yet at this cliff, called Duvanny Yar, the Kolyma had chewed through and exposed what lies beneath: a layer of frozen ground, or permafrost, that is hundreds of feet deep — and warming fast.
As the frozen ground warms much faster than expected, it’s reshaping the landscape — and releasing carbon gases that fuel global warming.
Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all.