Warmth and Rain Create an Accelerating Cycle of Melting and Methane Release

The thawing permafrost, and increased precipitation, have made the land wetter. The snow and rain create a vicious circle, forming an insulating layer that speeds defrosting underground.

The loss of permafrost deforms the landscape itself, knocking down houses and barns. The migration patterns of animals hunted for centuries are shifting, and severe floods wreak havoc almost every spring.

Climate change is a global phenomenon, but the shifts are especially pronounced in Russia, where permafrost covers some two-thirds of the country at depths ranging up to almost a mile.

“People don’t comprehend the scale of this change, and our government is not even thinking about it,” said Aleksandr N. Fedorov, deputy director of the Melnikov Permafrost Institute

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