Sitting in the library, working on my "10 potential problems with soils" assignment, it was easy for me to write about the potential challenge presented by permafrost. I could, almost without having to consult any outside sources at all, describe the sort of building standards that are used in Savlbard where I spent the winter of 2008.
I didn't even have to google to find a photo to illustrate the text: I had it on my computer, a building support pile in the Russian town of Barentsburg.
But I wanted to check how deep the top layer of permafrost melts each summer, when sun comes out.
So I googled it.
And in the top I saw, instead, photos and new stories of this: Arctic stronghold of world’s seeds flooded after permafrost melts, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/19/arctic-stronghold-of-worlds-seeds-flooded-after-permafrost-melts
The winter that I was in Svalbard, they had already encountered what were considered "unusual" weather conditions. There was rain that was immediately followed by heavy frost, which covered the ground in a layer of dense ice and made it difficult for reindeer to survive, given that they couldn't get the food from underneath it. (So the hungry fellas started "pinching" hay from our dog kennels instead.)
There were winds which drove snow in unusual directions, closing our access roads and covering our vehicles.
|An outhouse. Not that we were using it anymore... for obvious reasons.|
And now I'm reading about the "doomsday vault" and water gushing into its entrance.