Permafrost Melt in the Boreal Forest
72" h x 59" w
This piece was inspired by a walk through the boreal forest near Creamers Field in Fairbanks. The forest has grown on top of permanently frozen ground called permafrost.
Permafrost has a layer of soil on top which thaws seasonally and can support surface vegetation. Spruce roots grow out radially, creating a root mass shaped like a pancake.
Permafrost is made up of ice mixed in with soil. As it melts due to our increasingly warmer climate, the ground supporting these roots collapses. The trees and underbrush lean sideways, making the forest an impenetrable mass. Rainwater flows into these depressions, warming the soil further, and creating larger and deeper depressions.
As the newly thawed vegetable matter decays, it emits greenhouse gasses of methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide into the air.