Art/Science Collaborations > In a Time of Change

paper collage
15 x 15 inches

private collection

Impermafrost illustrates the potential for microbes to contribute to climate change as Arctic permafrost thaws. Permafrost is a layer of soil that remains frozen for at least two years and up to tens of thousands of years or more. Yet as temperatures rise in the Arctic, permafrost is thawing. As permafrost melts, it is possible that microbes could play a part in accelerating global warming. Because permafrost is frozen its organic matter does not break down, yet as it thaws, microbes break down the organic material. This is where the trouble begins. Arctic permafrost contains large quantities of carbon trapped in dead plants and animals. When microbes eat the organic matter trapped in the permafrost they produce carbon dioxide and sometimes methane, greenhouse gases that could cause temperatures to rise even more. This piece is my interpretation of this scenario.