Making matters even worse is the speed with which the permafrost
- the layer of ice that runs deep, often very deep, underground - is melting.30 This is already having huge implications for every type of building and structure that either relies on the permafrost for structural support, or else has been designed and built to withstand extremely cold temperatures, but is quite unsuited for milder conditions.
Throughout the Arctic region, almost every type of structure, ranging from houses and factories to bridges, dikes, erosion protection structures, open pit mines, roads, airfields and pipelines, is at some risk from the thawing of the permafrost. In Siberia, nearly 50 per cent of all buildings are estimated to be in poor condition, and one major oil-producing district, the Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Okrug, had recorded 1,720 pipeline accidents and spillages in a single year, contaminating 250 square miles of land. In Alaska, roads as well as buildings are being badly affected, and the number of days when temperatures are cold enough to allow the use of ice roads on the fragile tundra has fallen to just 100 - half its previous figure - since the early 1970s. And in the Canadian Arctic, international energy companies are confronting the challenges that the permafrost is posing to the stability of oil and gas reservoirs: the three main fields of the Mackenzie natural gas project - Parsons, Taglu and Niglintgak
- already lie close to sea level and the melting could be what one expert simply calls 'a nightmare for engineers'.31
Designing new buildings that can cope with the thawing permafrost and trying to alleviate its impact on existing structures certainly presents an enormous, and in all likelihood, very costly challenge. As the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment puts it succinctly, the phenomenon is 'very likely to change the probability of natural hazard occurrences. This implies that criteria for the location and design of infrastructure must be revised to keep risks at defined levels'.32 In particular, the permafrost is posing immense challenges to the design and construction of the energy pipelines that will be built in the Arctic region over the coming years, and green campaigners are generally not convinced that there are nearly enough safeguards to prevent environmental disaster.
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Remember to prepare for everyone in the home. When you are putting together a plan to prepare in the case of an emergency, it is very important to remember to plan for not only yourself and your children, but also for your family pets and any guests who could potentially be with you at the time of the emergency.