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Alaska Highway north of Whitehorse threatened by permafrost thaw


The CBC reports that a section of the Alaska Highway in Yukon has gotten a new permafrost monitor because ground near the highway is thawing and collapsing and could threaten the highway in "3 to 4 years":

--- Quote ---A metal rod stands tall at kilometre 1,456 on the Alaska Highway as land near the road continues to slowly collapse from permafrost thaw.

It's the first device of a new alarm system that will tell Yukon's Department of Highways and Public Works when the road is under threat from further destruction caused by thawing.

... At this spot 30 kilometres north of Whitehorse, known as the Takhini Slump to Dr. Fabrice Calmels, research chair of geoscience at YukonU Research Centre, and his team, permafrost is thawing at faster rates than ever before. The ground appears to be collapsing in spots, with some trees slumped over or knocked down.

Calmels and his researchers first came to this site two years ago to start their research. At that time, the slump was 95 metres from the road. Now, it's 40 metres away.

Record-breaking temperatures in the Yukon this summer, caused by a heat dome over the Pacific Northwest, sped up the permafrost thaw. That means the slump got five metres closer to the road in just one month, Calmels said.

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