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Sat May 25, 2019, 04:11 AM

In the High Arctic, researchers find permafrost thaws are changing the landscape

McGill study uses nearly 30 years of aerial surveillance and ground mapping
CBC News Posted: May 24, 2019 7:55 PM ET | Last Updated: 8 hours ago


A researcher stands at the edge of a retrogressive thaw slump, where ice within the permafrost has melted, destabilizing the land. (Melissa Ward Jones/McGill University)

They show a landscape that is otherworldly and sublime, but the photos from the High Arctic nonetheless capture foreboding signs of a climate changing even faster than expected.

Near the 80th parallel, McGill University researchers have documented significant degradation in permafrost earth that has been below freezing for two or more years that was previously believed to be stable.

"Generally, when you think of the Arctic you kind of see the map and think that that area should be OK because it's so far north, but our results show that that's not the case," said Melissa Ward Jones, a PhD candidate at McGill University's geography department and the study's lead author. "This area is also vulnerable to change."

The degradation is visible from the air as collapsed earth spans of land that are sinking into horseshoe-shaped craters.


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