It's No Surprise: "Permafrost" Is Not "Permanent"

 Researchers In Fairbanks Say The Permafrost Is Thawing...  Permafrost Action in Dawson City, Canada (Photo by Copper River Country Journal)...

 Researchers In Fairbanks Say The Permafrost Is Thawing... 

Permafrost Action in Dawson City, Canada (Photo by Copper River Country Journal) 

(But We Already Knew That, Didn't We?)

In Fairbanks, home of America's permafrost research, people are seeing sinkholes around town as the discontinuous permafrost under the surface of the city melts away. 

Homes, wells and septic systems are all reported under attack as the blocks of ice dissolve. 

The University of Alaska studies permafrost. Around 85% of Alaska's
surface is believed to be underlain with huge blocks of permafrost. And when the ice melts, it also affects highways. Black asphalt draws the sun's warmth and disrupts the ice beneath the ground. For example: On the Tok Cutoff.

Permafrost is such a big issue in Alaska – especially because of its disruption to homes and highways – that the university actually has a "Permafrost Laboratory." 

The college dug a special permafrost research tunnel in Fox, which is a small gold-mining town up the Steese Highway. The tunnel was built in 1965, and biologists go there to see 30,000-year-old bacteria, permafrost activity, and to examine ancient mammoths and steppe bisons from the Ice Age. The University has an exhibit at the Museum of the North, describing how permafrost works, next to an exhibit of an ancient bison that was so well-preserved that scientists actually cooked up a bit of its meat and ate it to see how it tasted. 

Ice Age Steppe Bison at Museum of the North in Fairbanks. (Photo, Copper River Country Journal) 

(One interesting thing about Fox is that it demonstrates the fact that permafrost, mammoth bones, and gold can typically be found all in one place near Fairbanks.)

Yet permafrost is not limited to Fairbanks. It stretches across the arctic. Its ravages can be seen  in Dawson City, Yukon – and at many homes in the Copper Valley.

And, in spite of special tubes built to combat it  on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, it's been damaging the pipe. 


View of the Pipeline where it crosses through Glennallen,
showing special thermal "permafrost" tubes. (Photo, Country Journal) 


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