When the ice in frozen tundra soils melts and drains away under climate change, the ground collapses, and the exposed permafrost thaws more quickly. Eventually, a large thaw slump is formed: this one is about two kilometers in extent and has a 30-meter tall headwall.
The shallow, thawed layer of soil in which plants grow is slowly sliding off the edge of the thaw slump. Sediments will then be eroded away into the sea. An ice wedge, formed over potentially hundreds of years of water infiltration through the soil, is also visible here along the headwall of the slump.
Sandhill cranes fly over the edge of the slump. The slumps provide a different type of habitat for the wildlife of the island, and are often frequented by caribou and bears.
In the Arctic, seasonal freeze-thaw cycles frequently cause disturbances in the ground. This churning frees up new sites for plants, and scientists have observed a decrease in bare ground on the island due to rapid establishment by plants.
Thawing of the permafrost combined with wave action on the coast has destabilised the ground, and as a result a whole chunk of the island has fallen into the sea.