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Alaska's North Slope
MAY 2006
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Photo captions by  Michael Klesius
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Alaska's North Slope Gallery Photo

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Ominous Thaw
Photograph by Joel Sartore

Graduate students Kyle Whittinghill, at left, and Marselle Alexander-Ozinskas inspect a soil sample in one of the North Slope's many thermokarsts, or tundra fractures, caused by melting permafrost. Thermokarsts on the slope have become more frequent in recent years, due in part to rising temperatures and a loss of insulating ground vegetation. When tundra soils—which are rich in sphagnum mosses—thaw, they decompose and release carbon into the atmosphere, a process that some scientists fear will increase global warming.
Photo Fast Facts
Camera: Nikon F5
Film Type: Fujichrome Velvia
Lens: Nikon 17-35mm f/2.8
Speed and F-Stop: 1/60 @ f/8
Weather Conditions: Partly cloudy
Time of Day: 2 p.m.
Lighting Techniques: Natural light
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