Arctic Thaw: Climate Change and Permafrost may seem like a heavy topic to be writing about, given how I’m usually sharing travel and remote work tips here on the blog. But this isn’t a random blog post, as I’ve started a collaboration with OMSI (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) to raise awareness and bring to the forefront all of the super cool, and interactive exhibits coming to OMSI in the near future!
If you grew up in Oregon, there’s a good chance that you took a field trip to OMSI at least once during your K-12 experience. But the museum is much more than just the submarine sitting outside and loads of kids running around. OMSI has an impressive events calendar filled with kid-friendly and 21+ events to makes sure Portlanders and visitors alike have the opportunity to interact with exhibits and each other while learning.
Hooray for science!
What Is Permafrost, Anyway?
Simply put, Permafrost is soil that has been frozen for at least two years. In this state, large amounts of carbon dioxide are trapped– but what happens as this ground begins to thaw due to drastic shifts in the climate? Large amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere which, as we all know, has unsettling consequences for the planet we live on.
OMSI has partnered with Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) to recreate the nation’s only permafrost research tunnel. Visitors will be able to explore Ice Age fossils, ancient ice cores, and engineering challenges posed by thawing permafrost.
Allyson Woodard, an exhibit developer with OMSI says,
“Climate change can be hard to wrap your head around. For a lot of people who don’t experience its effects, it feels abstract or distant – like something in the future.”
Nancy Stueber, President and CEO of OMSI adds,
“[…]we know that climate change can be scary or confusing, so we’ve taken into consideration how to guide people to a place of hope. I hope that in the end, people come away with a sense of empowerment and self-advocacy[…]”
Who’s Affected By Permafrost
Communities in Alaska are seeing the effects of Permafrost thaw on an almost daily basis. Sinkholes appear in areas where food sourcing used to happen– it’s now dangerous to go foraging in certain areas due to the thaw as large areas of land have caved in. Once plentiful wild food sources providing vital sustenance to life in the Arctic, are changing drastically and disappearing.
The exhibit highlights the resiliency and ingenuity of Alaskan communities in the face of their changing landscape and livelihoods. The Arctic Youth Ambassador Program is one such organization that “brings together diverse youth from across Alaska to serve as ambassadors for their communities and country in building awareness at home and abroad about life in the Arctic.” Their message and dedication are inspiring– to bring awareness of pressing environmental issues in an ever-changing Arctic landscape.
Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost
I was invited to attend the Media Preview of the new Arctic exhibit with special guests Matthew Sturm, Ph.D. professor of Geophysics at UAF and our very own Senator, Ron Wyden (D-OR). They spoke to the importance of Science Education outside of the classroom, and Senator Wyden promised his continued support of national science funding. Wyden implored both sides to take a hard, objective, fact-based approach to climate change vs making it an argument for a political platform.
Wyden continued to point out that extreme climate change excelerates natural disasters- those of which we’ve all been affected by in 2017 (remember the flooding and fires and the world basically ending??) Matthew Sturm added his call to action: we need to stop arguing about the existence of climate change– the challenge is real and can be addressed proactively if we work together to curb the human causing effects.
How To Learn More
Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost exhibit is now open to the public. You can find tickets and check out other happenings at the museum by visiting the Events Calendar.
How do you feel about our current climate change situation– have you or someone you know been affected by the devastating natural disasters that have been #trending in 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments below! xo