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Under The Arctic: Digging Into Permafrost

The Montshire Museum of Science is excited to present Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost, a special exhibition anchoring the Montshire’s focus on climate education and environmental sustainability. In Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost, visitors will investigate climate chemistry, learn about the environmental and engineering challenges posed by thawing permafrost, and be moved by true stories of human upheaval, adaptation and ingenuity in the face of changing landscapes.

The exhibition will be on display at the Montshire from May 27 to September 4, 2023.

Why This Exhibition Matters Now
Currently, around 15% of the Northern Hemisphere (6.9 million square miles) is underlain by permafrost, a thick layer of soil, gravel, and sand bound by ice that remains permanently frozen. Permafrost traps enormous amounts of carbon dioxide, and thawing permafrost has dramatic implications for the global climate. Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost looks at climate change through the lens of a thawing Arctic and highlights the importance of science and engineering research in helping us understand and adapt to changes in climate.

The Exhibition Experience
In Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost, guests enter the Field Lab, where they can step into the shoes of climate science researchers to solve engineering and environmental challenges posed by thawing permafrost, explore interactive games and experiments, marvel at real Ice Age fossils, and learn creative ways to take individual and community action on climate change. The exhibition also shares stories of adaptation and resiliency from people whose traditions and ways of life are being impacted by rapid environmental changes.

The key feature of the exhibition is a walk-in replica of the Western Hemisphere’s only permafrost research tunnel, located in Fox, Alaska and operated by Hanover, New Hampshire’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL). The tunnel is an immersive environment that reveals the sights and even the smells of permafrost, demonstrating how scientists study fossils, ancient ice cores, and organic matter to learn about the causes and future implications of thawing permafrost.

Under the Arctic: Digging into Permafrost was produced and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. The exhibition was developed in collaboration with the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and made possible by a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant.

Generously sponsored in part by:

Mascoma Bank

Lyme Green Heat Inc.



Chroma Technology Corporation

Bio X Cell

LCS Controls, Inc.

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