Why is There a Huge Tunnel Dug into the Alaskan Permafrost?

In this absolutely fascinating Physics Girl episode, Dianna is given rare access to a huge tunnel that was dug into the tundra of Alaska by the US Military in 1963.

Originally, the tunnel was built with the idea of storing military equipment literally on ice. When that didn’t work out, the Army turned the tunnel over to the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center and they have been conducting science related to permafrost there ever since.

The mission of the Permafrost Research Tunnel is to better understand the science of permafrost and the implications of a planet that is rapidly overheating.

So, why is access to this tunnel, full of such science and prehistoric wonder, so restricted? Because even a few warm bodies can damage the permafrost which has been frozen there for some 50,000 years.


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