Changing and rugged geography for soils weakened by thaw


TREASURES AND PLAGUES OF PERMAFROST (6/6) – Craters, landslides and the formation of lakes that grow each year are the consequences of more marked global warming which weakens the frozen lands stretching from Alaska to Siberia.

It occupies a fifth of the earth’s surface and encloses the high latitudes with its icy hands. But the fragile giant is capable, if it thaws, of the worst (releasing greenhouse gases, viruses buried for millennia, pouring its fresh water into the oceans) as well as the best (unveiling archaeological treasures). Journey to the heart of permafrost.

We are witnessing a geological process almost before our eyes. Over a period of five to ten years, the degradation of permafrost is dramatic, whereas it took tens of thousands of years for it to form during the previous ice age ”, summarizes Antoine Séjourné, geomorphologist and hydrologist at the University of Paris-Saclay. The researcher is studying the consequences of the permafrost thaw in the field. And, like his colleagues, he sees the formation of a new geography of the frozen lands of the Northern Hemisphere, which stretches from Alaska to the vast Siberia, passing through northern Canada and Scandinavia.

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