The Big Melt: Hazards Beneath the Permafrost

Thirty-two million gallons of mercury are trapped under the immense ice sheets in the Arctic Circle. As the Earth warms and the permafrost thaws, that toxic chemical could be released into the ocean or escape into the atmosphere. Other devastating threats also loom large. Bacteria, viruses and other pathogens that have been immobile for centuries will emerge from their deep freeze, threatening infections against which we have no immunity. Dead plants and animals buried largely intact in the ice will decompose, releasing gases that further hasten warming trends. Just how serious are the risks of thawing permafrost and what can be done?

Festival: Spotlight Health 2018

Watch and Listen: Environment

What if your country was swallowed by the sea? The Pacific island nation of Kiribati (population 100,000) is one of the... See more
Thirty-two million gallons of mercury are trapped under the immense ice sheets in the Arctic Circle. As the Earth warms... See more
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What is the role of design in addressing climate change and social fragmentation? Landscape architect Kate Orff of... See more
The past two years have been the hottest ever recorded on Earth. Hundreds of gigatonnes of ice have been lost in... See more
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