Huge areas of Northern Canada and Siberia Are Cratering-In As Permafrost Melts, the Tundra Ruptures and More Methane Escapes
Batagaika crater in Siberia is only the most dramatic example of the astounding changes in the melting landscape of the once frozen North. More than half a mile long and nearly 300 ft deep, Batagaika chasm appeared suddenly about 25 years ago. It is known locally as the Gateway to Hell due to the incessant booming noises that emerge from the ever-growing pit.
But there is nothing supernatural going on. The undulating permafrost of sub arctic regions is thawing for the first time in ten thousand years, wreaking geologic havoc. As part of the Arctic climate feedback loop, the rapid changes in Siberia and Northern Canada are self-perpetuating as carbon and methane – once frozen beneath the tundra – are released to accelerate global warming. Which melts the permafrost faster.
In Siberia, scientists have documented 52,000 square miles of turmoil, as craters and sinkholes open at random and sediment slides into rivers. Increasingly, roads, buildings and other infrastructure is threatened by the unstable soil. [In fact, there are places where it’s an adventure just trying to walk.] Batagaika is growing at about 30 ft a year, for the time being.