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DATE: June 14, 2019

SNIP: Scientists studying climate change expected layers of permafrost in the Canadian Arctic to melt by the year 2090.

Instead, it’s happening now.

A new study published this week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters revealed that unusually warm summers in the Canadian High Arctic between 2003 and 2016 resulted in permafrost melt up to 240% higher than previous years.

Louise Farquharson, a researcher at the Permafrost Laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the study’s lead author, told the three areas of melting permafrost studied in remote northern Canada are believed to have been frozen for thousands of years.

“This change is unprecedented on this kind of time scale,” Farquharson said.

She noted that while scientists had predicted the permafrost wouldn’t melt for another 70 years, those forecasts didn’t take into account the unusually warm summers that have happened in recent years. While researchers believe all indicators point to warmer temperatures continuing, there’s no way to know for sure just how quickly the permafrost will continue to melt.