- Aug 10, 2004
Vladimir Romanovsky, an associate professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks' Geophysical Institute said the impact is already apparent. In Fairbanks a path has buckled into undulating waves, houses are slumping into thawed ground and stands of birch trees are toppling as dying forested areas melt into swamps.
Melting permafrost has even opened up a gaping hole in the earth near his office at the university. "It's a great place to study permafrost, right behind the building," Romanovsky said.
He presented a summary of his research into changes in the permafrost at an energy symposium in Anchorage.
Over the past 30 years, soil temperatures have risen 1 degree to 3 degrees Celsius, according to Romanovsky's study. Along the trans-Alaska pipeline, the permafrost temperatures rose by 0.6 degrees to 1.5 degrees Celsius in 20 years.
Because permafrost holds methane, the thaw will also accelerate the climate-warming greenhouse effect created by gases in the atmosphere "This methane will be released into the atmosphere, adding directly to the greenhouse gases," Romanovsky said.