Drunken forests and sinking houses
See climate change in action in a series of photos from the Anchorage Daily News (login: email@example.com, password: misteree). They accompany a lengthy article by Doug O’Harra about permafrost warming in Alaska and all heck breaking loose.
Earth frozen since woolly mammoths and bison wandered Interior steppes has been turning to mush. Lakes have been shrinking. Trees are stressed. Prehistoric ice has melted underground, leaving voids that collapse into sinkholes.
Largely concentrated where people have disturbed the surface, such damage can be expensive, even heartbreaking. It’s happening now in Fairbanks: Toppled spruce, roller-coaster bike trails, rippled pavement, homes and buildings that sag into ruin. And the meltdown is spreading in wild areas: sinkholes, dying trees, eroding lakes.
These collapses bode ill: They are omens of what scientists fear will happen on a large scale across the Arctic if water and air continue to warm as fast as climate models predict.
And if O’Harra’s article doesn’t quench your thirst for news of drunken forests and sinking houses, read Elizabeth Kolbert’s fascinating, in-depth New Yorker piece from May on climate chaos in Alaska and beyond.
Get Grist in your inbox