The ground under the new road is developing a sink hole and affecting the foundation of the adjacent house.
Observation by Jeffry Luther:
Sink holes started happening at Noatak in the last 15-20 years to my knowledge. There is one that happened during the Summer of 2019 on the road. The Noatak IRA filled it in and during late summer, it appeared again, but this time closer to the resident's house. They marked it off with the tries to keep people for driving into it. The weight of the gravel plus the added heat may be causing the permafrost underneath to thaw. There is four to five feet of gravel on top of the tundra. I am thinking that there will be more of these kinds of problem with the warming temperatures. The sink hole is already affecting the house foundation. The bedroom doors and the windows do not open or close properly. There is another sink hole on the same block that crushed the sewer line in October. The water operator Paul Walton is planning on posting this to LEO Network.
Comments from LEO Editors:
The sink holes are likely another sign of thawing permafrost, which is expected to continue as temperatures increase. There are some things that can be done to reduce thawing and protect permafrost, such as keeping snow cleared during winter, as this allows cold to penetrate into the ground. ANTHC performed our first assessment of climate change impacts on Noatak in 2011. The full report entitled, Climate Change in Noatak Alaska, Strategies for Community Health included a section on land change (p. 27). A wide range of thaw impacts were documented including damage to the foundation of the water plant, houses that were out of level, and utility poles that were leaning. An intervention was attempted with the water plant by installing an active ground cooling system to stabilize the permafrost and ground under the water plant. A recent observation posted by Paul Walton in November 2019 (attached) describes the current situation with the foundation continuing to show signs of foundation subsidence. There are signs of community-wide impacts from permafrost thaw and the Noatak Tribal Council and NANA Corporation are currently hosting a planning meeting to evaluate measures that can help to protect infrastructure. Mike Brubaker 2-15-20