When you put a permafrost core in a CT scanner and analyze the data, you’re traveling back in time to answer important questions: What was buried deep within the frozen soil? How much of it is ice or plant matter? How much bacteria is mixed within it, capable of springing to life? Presented by PBS Digital Studios, this is KQED’s Deep Look: The Hidden Perils of Permafrost.

Scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have descended on Barrow, Alaska to study permafrost — soil that remains frozen throughout the seasons, often for thousands of years. They’re interested in permafrost because it has the potential to release an enormous amount of greenhouse gases in a short amount of time if rising temperatures cause the permafrost to thaw.

Related watching: more Deep Look episodes, more about ecology, a definition of feedback loops, and more time travel via Ice Cores: Measuring Earth’s atmosphere from 20,000 years ago.

Related solutions: solar power, wind turbines, electric cars, entomophagy, sustainability, and The Story of the Hummingbird.

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