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Nunavik’s ice wedges show how a warmer northern landscape is changing – Nunatsiaq News

13 December 2019

“It took less than a decade to melt what took centuries to form”

HALIFAX—The top layer of century-old ice wedges in the ground around Salluit has started to melt over the past decade.

A researcher with Université Laval, Samuel Gagnon, studies these formations that characterize much of the landscape across the Canadian Arctic and subarctic.

Ice wedges are made purely of ice, as opposed to permafrost, which is frozen dirt. They’re caused by the seasonal thaw of snow in areas covered in permafrost.

Ice wedges begin to form when permafrost becomes so cold during the winter that it cracks. Later, when temperatures rise and snow at the surface melts, water seeps into these cracks and is then chilled and refrozen by the surrounding permafrost.

As this process repeats itself from year to year, more ice veins can form in the same crack, and the ice wedge grows.

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