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‘Nature doesn’t trust us any more?: Arctic heatwave stokes permafrost thaw

‘Nature doesn’t trust us any more’: Arctic heatwave stokes permafrost thaw

Record permafrost temperatures are transforming the Arctic, especially for indigenous peoples, whose hunting livelihoods are at risk as ground melts

Frozen ground in the Arctic is thawing, harming indigenous people’s hunting livelihoods and destabilising buildings and roads across the rapidly warming region.

Air temperatures hit 38C in Russia on 20 June in the Russian town of Verkhoyansk in Siberia, claimed as a heat record in the Arctic, which is warming twice as fast as the global average.

The previous day, the land surface temperature hit an extraordinary 45C at several locations in the Arctic Circle, according to European satellite data.

Often overlooked compared to air temperature records, temperatures in the ground are trending ever higher across the Arctic, according to the UN panel of climate scientists.

Permafrost, permanently frozen ground often just below the surface which melts to mud in summer, covers about a quarter of the land in the northern hemisphere. And shrinking permafrost is causing wrenching long-term changes to nature.

“As one of our elders says: ‘Nature doesn’t trust us any more’,” said Vyacheslav Shadrin, chair of the Yukaghir Council of Elders, of the Republic of Sakha-Yakutia in the Russian far east, about 600 km from Verkhoyansk. The Yukaghir total about 1,500 people.

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