A Toxic Situation: The Arctic’s Melting Permafrost

Sarah Raines
The Arctic is a region of the world that has been experiencing significant changes over the past few decades. One of the most concerning of these changes is the melting of permafrost, which is a layer of frozen soil that covers much of the region.
Learn about the environmental crisis caused by the melting permafrost in the Arctic. Discover the impact on climate change and ecosystems in this informative article.
Landscape of a Glacier

It has become overwhelmingly evident that the Arctic’s permafrost has begun to thaw, leaving devastating consequences. Between 1978 and 2022, increased permafrost temperatures were recorded at borehole sites in Alaska. Drastic climate change has been tagged as the culprit in the radically changing Arctic landscape.

Projected Damage In Years To Come

It is not clear what the tipping point will be, but scientists have projected that the Arctic will get warmer in years to come. The now-melting permafrost covers about 9 million miles of the planet’s north. As the climate warms, the solid ice upon which many livelihoods depend is crumbling.

Learn about the environmental crisis caused by the melting permafrost in the Arctic. Discover the impact on climate change and ecosystems in this informative article.
Black and white geode. Photo: Francesco Ungaro | Pexels

Based on a recent analysis, it was predicted that most of the Arctic Ocean may become ice-free during the summer of 2050. The study predicted the Arctic Ocean will drop below 1 million sq. km in summers before 2050. It has also been suggested that the fate of the Arctic depends critically on future carbon dioxide emissions. The research team of another study, however, stated that even reducing the emissions levels may not help either.

The decline in the state of the Arctic has begun. However, if measures are put in place, the impact to come may be better.

Susan M. Natalie, a Woodwell Climate Research Centre scientist, described the changes as simply devastating. Dr. Natalie, who has been studying the permafrost for over 13 years, expressed concerns over the thawing Arctic. According to her, the melting permafrost not only affects infrastructures but also risks human health. In a nutshell, the devastating situation of the melting permafrost is not only bad news for the 3.6 million people who live in polar regions. It also speaks doom for world leaders and climate policymakers if the situation is not addressed.

Present Effects On Climatic Condition

The permafrost has long been one of the earth’s stores of global warming gasses. The Arctic is estimated to hold nearly twice as much carbon as exists in the atmosphere now. But with this greenhouse gas store now thawing, the climate is even further threatened. 

Ice floes in the ocean under a blue sky. Photo: Mad Skillz | Pexels

As the Arctic melts, as much as 92 billion tons of carbon could be emitted between now and 2100. This is one of the significant concerns of climate experts and scientists. The thawing of the permafrost is already a cause of concern for the already unstable climate. The impact of the melting Arctic is yet expected to worsen in the coming years.

Addressing The Melting Permafrost Crisis

Thawing snow. Photo: Little Visuals | Pexels

The melting permafrost in the Arctic is a significant threat to the environment, human communities, and infrastructure. It is a complex issue that requires immediate action to address.

One of the most effective solutions is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which will slow down the rate of climate change and limit the amount of carbon released from the permafrost. This can be achieved through a range of measures, such as transitioning to renewable energy sources and implementing carbon capture and storage technologies.

Another solution is to increase investment in research and development to better understand the permafrost’s dynamics and its impact on the environment. This will enable us to develop more effective strategies to mitigate the effects of melting permafrost and address the challenges it presents.


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