Though a relatively new term, yet permafrost is an interesting occurrence. The word frost makes it quite clear that it has something to do with ice. However, this cannot be term as sheets of ice such as the glaciers. According to Steven Rindner, a student currently pursuing his graduation with biology as a major, Permafrost informs is a layer of earth material in the crevices of which water has frozen. As per its definition, Permafrost is any earth material that has frozen below zero degrees centigrade for a period of at least two years.
This makes it very clear that considering permafrost to be sheets of melting ice is a myth. This is not the same as the ground that freezes and thaws every year, which is known as seasonally frozen. Permafrost has got its name from the fact that it is permanently frozen. The place that houses the permafrost primarily is the North and the South pole. It could be said places that remain snow-clad for most of the year are homes for the permafrost.
An interesting thing about these naturally occurring wonders is that they are not necessarily found on the ground surface. They can be and are often found below the Earth’s surface, at times several feet below the surface. Also, a permafrost region doesn’t need to be covered in the snow always. Steven Rindner is so enthusiastic about these natural processes that he invests a lot of his time studying such exciting phenomena. From his research, he has found that places such as Greenland, Siberia, Alaska, and Canada contain permafrost, which constitutes up to 85% of the Northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere contrastingly has fewer permafrost areas.
Studies reveal that permafrost soils which are closer to the surface are rich in organic carbon. The lower-lying layers of permafrost mostly contain minerals. Surprisingly, the layer that lies on top of permafrost does not remain frozen all through the year. This layer is known as the active layer; like all other snow-clad areas, it thaws in the summer and again freezes in winter.
Unfortunately, though the gradual increase in the temperature of the Earth is causing the permafrost to thaw. That is not a very good sign. Climate changes could bring about disastrous effects on the permafrost. There are many places where houses are built on permafrost because they form a solid foundation. The presence of homes on permafrost would also suggest the presence of roads and other permanent structures as well.
This is something that humanity should begin to worry about and resolve before it gets too late, says Steven Rindner. He opines thus because if this thawing continues to happen, it will be responsible for large-scale destruction across the globe. Apart from the constructions, another thing that will be adversely affected is the quality of the soil of permafrost.
The thawing of permafrost will cause microbes to grow and begin to destroy this otherwise organic carbon-rich soil. The multiplication of such microbes will directly affect the health of humans, animals, and birds. Thus, it could be said that losing permafrost from the face of the Earth will massively disrupt life on this only planet that has life on it.