This beautiful photograph reveals an oil pipeline hugging the shore of an Alaskan lake. The lake waters are slowly merging with the melting tundra beneath the pipeline, creating dark fissures around puzzle pieces of land.

Photo: Alaska ShoreZone

On the NOAA Fisheries blog, Rich Press explains what you're seeing:

Thaw Lake, Prudhoe Bay August 5, 2012 An oil pipeline follows the shoreline of an encroaching lake (lower left) in this oil-rich province not far from the coast of the Beaufort sea (visible in the far background). The low tundra is gradually becoming submerged as the permafrost melts and subsides. At some point, this pipeline may need to move.


Of course, this pipeline is part of a carbon-burning energy infrastructure that is contributing to the melt of the permafrost. So in a sense, the people who built this pipeline indirectly engineered its demise.

See more gorgeous aerial imagery of the Alaskan coasts on NOAA