Permafrost thaw threatens Arctic archeological sites, says professor

University of Toronto professor Max Friesen will speak tonight in Yellowknife on how climate change is threatening archeological sites in N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Delta.
Pingos in N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Delta are unmistakeable evidence of permafrost activity in the soil. University of Toronto professor Max Friesen says thawing permafrost due to climate change is endangering archeological sites in the area. (Karen McColl)

Climate change is threatening archeological sites in N.W.T.'s Mackenzie Delta, says University of Toronto professor Max Friesen.

He says thawing permafrost is endangering sites and artifacts dating back thousands of years.

"Instead of having the archaeological remains and the houses and whatnot being stable, they're actually eroding out of the cliff face," he said.

"As you walk along the beach, you can actually see all the artifacts, animal bones, and even pieces of houses that are slumping down the slope and will eventually wash out into the ocean."

Friesen says researchers need to act quickly and prioritize which sites should be excavated before their contents are destroyed.

He will be in Yellowknife tonight for a talk on the subject starting at 7 p.m. at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. He'll also join Trail's End host Allison Devereaux live in studio this afternoon.

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