In Alaska, a low-tech solution helps the ground stay cold enough, for now
The Wall Street Journal; December 7, 2009
FAIRBANKS, Alaska—While the world debates the causes of climate change and what, if anything, to do about it, Alaskans are busy dealing with its consequences.
Permafrost, the frozen ground that lies just beneath the surface in most of the state, has become less stable in many areas, thanks in part to higher average air temperatures. It has begun to thaw in the warmer months and refreeze in the winter, causing shifts that wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the pipelines, railways, roads and buildings that sit on top of it.
"If we're going to build on frozen ground, we want to keep it frozen," says Dan White, director of the Institute of Northern Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.