Climate Change Is Accelerating Permafrost Thawing. And It’s Destroying Arctic Cities.
As climate change accelerates permafrost thawing, what can be done to maintain the resource-rich hubs Russia relies on?


Cracking and collapsing structures are a growing problem in cities like Norilsk—a nickel-producing centre of 177,000 people located 180 miles above the Arctic Circle—as climate change thaws the perennially frozen soil and increases precipitation. Valery Tereshkov, deputy head of the emergencies ministry in the Krasnoyarsk region, wrote in an article this year that almost 60 percent of all buildings in Norilsk have been deformed as a result of climate change shrinking the permafrost zone. Local engineers said more than 100 residential buildings, or one-tenth of the housing fund, have been vacated here due to damage from thawing permafrost.

Global warming has been tied to more frequent forest fires and flooding across Russia, but its impact on permafrost, which covers two-thirds of the country’s territory, is also beginning to be felt. At least seven giant craters have been discovered in Siberia—reportedly caused by thawing permafrost allowing methane to explode out of the ground—and a 12-year-old boy in Salekhard died from anthrax in August after thawing released bacteria.

Arctic islands and the northern coastline—and scientific outposts there—are disappearing into the sea as permafrost thaws, sea ice melts and wave action increases. Valery Grebenets of Moscow State University’s department of cryolithology and glaciology teaches his students 13 “horror stories” about thawing permafrost, including buckling roads and railways, soil runoff killing fish and the release of toxic and radioactive pollutants contained by frozen dams.

The problem also threatens Alaska, Canada and other northern territories, but only Russia has cities so far north. 

Arctic Foxes 'Grow' Their Own Gardens
The little carnivores' colorful dens provide veritable oases in the tundra, a new study says.

The underground homes, often a century old, are topped with gardens exploding with lush dune grass, diamondleaf willows, and yellow wildflowers—a flash of color in an otherwise gray landscape. 

“They’re bright green and everything around them is just brown,” says Brian Person, a wildlife biologist for the North Slope Borough in Barrow, Alaska. “It pops”…

Canada: No more Trophy Hunts for Polar Bears

Canada is the only nation in the world that allows Polar Bear hunting by non-natives and non-citizens.

Of the estimated 20,000-22,000 Polar Bears worldwide, 60% of them live in Canada.

Polar Bears are currently at a threatened status, with worldwide treaties in place for their protection. Even so, Canada still allows trophy hunters to pay for the opportunity to kill a Polar Bear.

Selling hunting licenses to trophy hunters creates a bloody business where hunters sell tours to Canada for the sole purpose of killing a Polar Bear. With a price tag of $49,950 US, one hunting lodge claims to have a “virtual 100% success rate” at killing a polar bear and you can have as many observers as you would like for an additional $9,950 each.

The sickening treatment of these majestic animals must stop.

Please join me in petitioning the Canadian Government in pohibiting non-native hunts of Polar Bears!

Sign this petition!


Russian Miner Ivan Kislov Photographs Arctic Foxes During His Break

Russian photographer Ivan Kislov spends his lunch break capturing the beauty and adorableness of Arctic foxes.  A mining engineer who works in a remote north-eastern Chukotka region in the Arctic Circle, where the temperature is unbelievably harsh, Koslov manages to obtain the silent and playful beauty of his favorite subject, the fox. He effortlessly manages to depict the foxes in playful, tender and pensive portraits, which are surpisingly present.

Keep reading

Reindeer are the only mammals whose eyes are known to change colour, going from gold in the summer, when the sun is a constant presence in the arctic, to a less reflective blue in the dark winter months.

In dark conditions, muscles in your irises contract to dilate your pupils and allow more light into your eyes. When it’s bright again, the irises widen and the pupils shrink; the same thing happens in reindeer, but the arctic winter forces their pupils to dilate for months at a time.

This constant effort to stay dilated ends up blocking the small vessels that drain fluid out of the eyes; causing pressure to build up. Consequently, this compresses the collagen fibres that make up the tapetum, a mirrored layer that sits behind the retina, and cause the eye to reflect blue wavelengths of light instead of yellow.


Left image courtesy of little miss piccie on Flikr http://www.flickriver.com/photos/little_miss_piccie/3261701700/

Right image: Still from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deo3a3GcYo8