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Climate Change: Hell on Alaska's Formerly Frozen Highways

Global thawing is threatening critical infrastructure

August 02, 2016

The Alaska Highway's roadbeds are melting.

“It’s the single biggest geotechnical problem we have,” said Jeff Currey, materials engineer for the northern region of Alaska’s Department of Transportation. “The Romans built roads 2,000 years ago that people are still using. On the other hand, we have built roads that within a year or two, without any maintenance, look like a roller coaster because they are built over thaw-unstable permafrost.”

Bloomberg's Greg Quinn has posted a fascinating article about how a critical transportation artery through two nations is threatened by thawing permafrost. Roads built on what was assumed to be fairly stable permafrost are shifting so dramatically, people and life supplies can't get where they need to go.

At a July 15 discussion in Toronto on global warming, Canada's Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna told attendees, "Thawing permafrost isn’t just an inconvenience, folks; it’s a change in the way of life.”

Read Quinn's story on Bloomberg.com here:

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