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Melting tundra raises climate scientists' concerns

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Professor Ted Schuur, a geography professor at Northern Arizona University, stands by the central-Alaska plot of tundra that he’s been heating for the last 13 years. The several feet of permafrost has melted, collapsing the soil, creating a pond. Some of his clear plastic boxes, used for measuring carbon dioxide emitted from underground, are visible in the foreground. (Daniel Grossman)
Professor Ted Schuur, a geography professor at Northern Arizona University, stands by the central-Alaska plot of tundra that he’s been heating for the last 13 years. The several feet of permafrost has melted, collapsing the soil, creating a pond. Some of his clear plastic boxes, used for measuring carbon dioxide emitted from underground, are visible in the foreground. (Daniel Grossman)
This article is more than 1 year old.

The climate is changing faster than many scientists expected. Among the worrisome indicators: more than 4 million square miles of carbon-rich frozen soil in and around the Arctic.

It's been frozen for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. But in some places, it's beginning to thaw.

Reporter Daniel Grossman visited Alaska and talked with two scientists who say if that trend continues, the outcome could be catastrophic.

Dan Grossman’s reporting was supported by the Pulitzer Center and the Whole Systems Foundation.

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a project aimed at strengthening the media’s focus on the climate crisis. WBUR is one of 400+ news organizations that have committed to a week of heightened coverage around the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow. Check out all our coverage here.

This segment aired on November 2, 2021.

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