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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Global Warming Threatens China-Tibet Railroad

Abraham Lustgarten writes:

Building a railway across the unstable soil of the Tibetan Plateau was an improbable endeavor from the start, but an army of Chinese government engineers did it anyway.

Now, with the frozen soil disturbed by the process of laying down the rail and a warming climate on the plateau, some scientists question whether the $4-billion rail line will survive as is or require major reconstruction.

Three years after the railway opened in 2006, international research shows that the Tibetan territories are among the fastest warming, and fastest melting, on the planet. The research into the fate of glaciers and the permafrost soils—done by the United Nations, China's scientific agencies, and several independent scientists—is not focused on the railway. But the work raises concerns that the warming ground could lead to a buckling of the railway.

link: Will Global Warming Melt the Permafrost Supporting the China-Tibet Railway?: Scientific American


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