The Arctic Permafrost Is Thawing Fast and That Affects Us All

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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.

Arctic permafrost is thawing fast. That affects us all. 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. As the frozen ground warms much faster than expected, it’s reshaping the landscape—and releasing carbon gases that fuel global warming.

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.

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Yeah and it’s awesome. This will make it easier and cheaper for oil and gas companies to drill up there, plus easier shipping lanes. This means more profits for big corps. And that money will trickle down to the rest of us, right? s/

  2. I asked my high school teacher if permafrost could thaw if it got warm enough. I was informed that could never happen, hence why it’s called ‘permafrost’. Life is interesting

  3. We need to act on that emergency, decarbonize the economy as fast as possible, then remove the excess carbon from the atmosphere until we reach a safe level. The climate crisis has become the first priority.

  4. This is one of the worst possible effects of climate change, the CO2 and Methane emissions will accelerate the warming and it will be a run away chain reaction of negative consequences.

  5. > In the Zimovs’ vision of the past and future of Arctic permafrost, wild animals also play a central role—but the beasts are bigger than beavers, and their effect on permafrost more benevolent. The herds of bison, mammoths, horses, and reindeer that lumbered across the Pleistocene steppes, Sergey Zimov has long argued, did more than just eat the grass. They maintained it. They fertilized it with their waste and packed it down, trampling mosses and shrubs and ripping out tree saplings.

    This seems similar to what Allan Savory has been saying.

  6. Mud happened. The north cooled. Four thousand years passed. The frozen mud formed zit and tagine-like mounds. These are all over Alaska, Russia, Canada, Norway, Sweden and Norway in spots Caribou, Wolverines and Muskox live. They’re pingos. You can see them in google earth.

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