Reassessment of existing approaches to building construction in permafrost regions has been triggered recently by concerns associated with the potential impact of climate change on permafrost. At sites with ice-rich soils, preservation of permafrost beneath buildings remains the main approach. Most permafrost soils are highly thaw-unstable, and their thaw settlement can not practically be accommodated. Preliminary thawing of permafrost prior to construction has not found wide application so far. As long as the mean annual temperature remains below 0°C, means of permafrost protection without artificial refrigeration could be applied. Numerous building failures in permafrost regions are related to changes in permafrost due to poor design, and to poor maintenance of buildings, which are more powerful factors than the natural change in permafrost temperature.
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