One Gnawing Problem: Beaver Dams Melting Arctic Permafrost

Beaver. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Photo: Steve Hillebrand, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

We know the permafrost in the Arctic is melting fast, but a new study finds that one of the reasons for its rapid decline may be that beavers are actually damming it up — literally.  CNN reports that using satellite images scientists have observed that beavers are building dams way farther north than previously observed.  These dams create new freshwater lakes and ponds, and because these contain water that is warmer than the surrounding frozen soil, it accelerates the thawing of the permafrost.  Why are the beavers moving north?  Climate change, of course.

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