Permafrost Thawing Severely Threatens Arctic Infrastructure Over Next 30 Years

Published: Dec. 11, 2018 at 7:55 PM AKST
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Seventy percent of infrastructure in the arctic could be at serious risk from permafrost thawing over the next 30 years, according to a new study.

A paper was released on December 11th during the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting in Washington D.C.

Vladamir Romanovsky, a researcher from the University of Alaska Fairbanks who worked on this study with colleagues from Nordic countries, spoke in a Facebook Live session with UAF.

He says although we see examples of infrastructure affected by permafrost thawing at a local level, this latest research shows how infrastructure may be impacted when permafrost begins to thaw in larger sections.

"It was built, designed and built, in assumption that permafrost will be still there, and pretty much, 95 percent or more of all infrastructure in Alaska was built under this kind of assumption," said Romanovsky.

Airports, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure such as the Trans-Alaska Pipeline could be impacted by large permafrost degradation over the next few decades. The Trans-Alaska Pipeline has 340 miles that traverses over land that has near-surface permafrost which could thaw by 2050.

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