Thawing permafrost poses a massive threat to infrastructure and people living in the Arctic, including the United States, Canada, and Russia.
According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, at least 70 percent of the infrastructure including homes, hospitals, railways, roads, and others may be damaged as a result of the melting in the Arctic permafrost region. About 4 million people will be affected in the next 30 years due to the thawing of frozen soil.
There's No Silver Lining
To make matters worse, the study also notes that these drastic changes will still happen even if the world decreases its carbon emission significantly. The new findings revealed "an unprecedentedly high spatial resolution" perspective of how permafrost will jeopardize infrastructure.
The findings also showed that one-third of all Arctic infrastructure rests on a piece of land that is highly likely to thaw by 2050. The community of 3.6 million people will be forced to migrate to a more solid ground if the infrastructure is not adjusted to the changing landscape.
"Much more needs to be done to prepare Alaska and Alaskans for the adverse consequences of coming changes in permafrost and climate," said Vladimir Romanovsky, a scientist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute who is examining the permafrost in Alaska for 25 years.
"These observations have led me to believe that the global warming is not a 'fake' but the reality," Romanovsky said. "And here, in Alaska, we are dealing already and will be dealing even more in the near future with this reality."
The Paper May Be Misleading
Even though the researchers of this study insist that global warming threat is real, Christopher Burn, a professor of geography and environmental studies at Carleton University, Canada, explains that the paper does not reveal anything that they don't already know. In fact, he even calls the study distorted in some ways.
According to Burn, the authors indicate that there are certain areas in Canada that will remain unaffected if the permafrost is gone. He explains that these areas have been marked as low risk or no-risk, which is not exactly true.
"I think this is wrong. Not because I wish to be sensational, but because of the physics of heat transfer in ground materials," he added in his interview with Newsweek.