Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Natural History on the Big Screen – Feedback Loops: Permafrost

Archived Webinar

This Zoom webinar aired July 14, 2021, as part of the four-part virtual series, "Natural History on the Big Screen: Feedback Loops," which took place monthly from May to August, 2021. Watch a recording in the player above.


Watch a discussion of the climate film "Feedback Loops: Permafrost," with Max Holmes (Deputy Director, Woodwell Climate Research Center), Edda Mutter (Science Director, Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council), and Merritt Turetsky (Director, Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at University of Colorado Boulder).

Moderator: Juliana Olsson (Exhibit Writer and Editor, Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History).

About the Film

Permafrost, an icy expanse of frozen ground covering one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere, is thawing. As it does, microscopic animals are waking up and feeding on the previously frozen carbon stored in plant and animal remains, releasing heat-trapping gases as a byproduct. These gases further warm the atmosphere, melting more permafrost in a dangerous feedback loop. With permafrost containing twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, its thaw could release 150 billion tons of carbon by the end of the century.

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Earth Science