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The natural world. Looking pretty for 3.5b years.

Slip-slidin' Away

Slip-slidin' Away

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Tuesday, August 2, 2016/Categories: natural history, video, environment, climate change

                     Alaska Permafrost Melting, Chukchi coast (credit: Ground Truth Trekking)

Some unusual melting is now underway in the Arctic. Less than 2 weeks ago, Russian researchers noticed tundra in Siberia was beginning to jiggle like "jelly" as they tried walking across it. The grassy-turf typically melts to a constantly frozen layer of permafrost, some that may have remained frozen since the ice age, but which is now melting deeply.

Likewise Brian Howard, a graduate student of ecology at Northern Arizona University, has now observed the same melting underway in Denali National Park. The surface layer of a hillside in the park is breaking off and sliding downhill like “greased butter” of the thawing permafrost underneath. Howard captured the real-time melting here:

Alaska is one of the fastest warming regions in the world. The ecologist was studying an area of Denali burned in a recent wildfire and the subject of a research collaboration between the National Park Service, his university, and a NASA program called the Arctic and Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE). If Howard hadn't been paying closer attention, he might have become part of the melt and slipped away as part of the flowing 'permafrost butter'.

WHB

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