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Posts Tagged ‘Barrenland Beauties: Showy Plants of the Canadian Arctic’

PERMAFROST FRONTIER

BY ANNE RAVER / PHOTOGRAPHY BY IHOR PONA

Around a school in an arctic town, Cornelia Hahn Oberlander has made a landscape to withstand the prospect of a warming world.

This week, LAM is joining more than 250 media outlets for Covering Climate Now, flooding the zone, as it were, with climate coverage in the run-up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit on September 23. Landscape and landscape architecture are deeply implicated in the future of climate progress, or a lack of it. Over the past decade, LAM has dug into climate issues of landscape in numerous dimensions, mapping the big resource picture as well as local attempts to fend off increasingly apparent hazards of global warming—from the procurement of materials to the integrity of the food supply chain. Each day this week we’ll bring you excellent stories from recent years that follow landscape architects acting and thinking about climate change and the landscape.

FROM THE NOVEMBER 2013 ISSUE OF LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE MAGAZINE.

 

The permafrost is melting in Inuvik, a flat delta town in the Northwest Territories, 2 degrees north of the Arctic Circle. You can see the drunken trees, leaning this way and that along the banks of the Mackenzie River. The Gwich’in and Inuvialuit—native people who make up 40 percent of the some 3,500 residents here—have to go farther out to hunt seals, because of the melting ice.

The caribou get stuck in the mud, instead of running across snow, as they migrate to their calving grounds north of Tuktoyaktuk, or Tuk, as people here say, on the coast of the Beaufort Sea. The lichen that has sustained them for millennia is getting crowded out by species that thrive in warmer temperatures.

Local people tell of landslides and collapsing banks along the Mackenzie River, or slumping—where the land simply caves in—on a road or in the forest. The pingos, or subterranean ice houses, may be melting up in Tuk, but most people have freezers anyway.

“Come, I want to show you where I sank into the permafrost that was melted,” Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, FASLA, the Canadian landscape architect, said one unseasonably cold day in July. (more…)

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