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Melting permafrost could be disastrous
Monday November 5, 2012 - Email this article to a friend

Scientists from Austria claim the rise in summer temperatures could make the ground above 2,500m unstable. It may lead to man-made structures being unstable, rock falls, flooding and even tsunami like waves as rocks crash into alpine lakes.

At present the earth at high altitude remains frozen, and therefore stable, in the summer months

The foundations of buildings and lift pylons are built into this solid soil but if it melts it will become unstable and therefore the structures could collapse.

Researchers at University of Innsbruck say the permafrost is reducing in thickness by 5 -10 cm each year and it appears there is little chance of this increase slowing or even stopping.

If it leads to rocks falls these may fall into glacial melt water lakes causing a massive wave with widespread flooding. It would be like a tsunami according to some and would hit habitations around the shores.

There would be little warning.

"Mountain areas are especially sensitive to global warming not just in the visible melting of glaciers, but also through degradation of permafrost which is much harder to estimate," said Alpine Global Warming expert Professor Johann Stötter, from the University of Innsbruck, to The Austrian Times.

"A good example of where there would be a risk is at reservoirs. We have an example from Italy in 1963 when a massive landslide of about 260 million m3 of forest, earth, and rock fell into the reservoir."

The engineering problems caused by a melting permafrost as many old high altitude structures become unstable, would also be enormous and very expensive.

High altitude buildings at riskHigh altitude buildings at risk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melting glaciers and meltign permafrostMelting glaciers and melting permafrost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the spirit of the mountains

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