Chris Linder

American, b. 1972

Siberian permafrost thaw, Duvannyi Yar, Kolyma River, Siberia, July 21, 2010
Archival inkjet print

“Since the last ice age, vast reserves of plant and animal matter have been locked up in frozen arctic soil, or permafrost. However, as temperatures rise, permafrost is thawing, and the gooey carbon-rich soil is becoming food for microbes. As they consume this ancient carbon, they respire methane and carbon dioxide, potent greenhouse gases. The amount of carbon stored in Arctic permafrost is estimated to be 1,500 gigatons—double what is currently in our atmosphere.”

—Chris Linder

This photograph springs from Polaris Project: Science in Siberia, a project where he worked alongside college students and scientists studying Arctic permafrost. A video documenting this effort appears on the artist’s website.

As rising temperatures melt the frozen earth, which covers 24% of the Northern Hemisphere, carbon is released into the water and atmosphere. Linder introduces the public to this phenomenon, a story not as well known as the meltdown of the world’s glaciers.

As an oceanographer and photographer, Linder has also collaborated with scientists and journalists to publish Science on Ice: Four Polar Expeditions. An intimate look into climate change research, this book also celebrates the majesty and complexity of Arctic and Antarctic landscapes.