Airborne geophysical survey offers new insight into permafrost in Alaska
23 January 2012
A pioneering airborne electromagnetic survey in the Yukon Flats near Fort Yukon, Alaska, by the U.S. Geological Survey has yielded unprecedented images of the presence and absence of permafrost to depths of roughly 328 feet.
The airborne survey captured images of permafrost over a substantially larger area, and with greater data density, than has been previously achieved using sparse boreholes and ground-based geophysics.
"Liquid water conducts electricity better than ice," explained USGS director Marcia McNutt. "We can detect from the air the weak magnetic fields generated by those electric currents, thus distinguishing quickly and easily melted from frozen ground. This new technology, and the maps of changing permafrost, will be valuable for both climate change research and engineering in the challenging Alaskan environment."
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Source: U.S. Geological Survey