drunken trees

(DRUNK.un treez)
n.
In a northern climate, a stand of trees under which the permafrost has melted.
Example Citation:
Mr. Rude says he no longer recognizes Alaska weather. "This year, we had a real quick melt of the snow, and it seemed like it was just one week between snowmobiling in the mountains and riding around in the boat in shirt-sleeve weather," Mr. Rude said. Other forests, farther north, appear to be sinking or drowning as melting permafrost forces water up. Alaskans have taken to calling the phenomenon "drunken trees."
— Timothy Egan, "Alaska, No Longer So Frigid, Starts to Crack, Burn and Sag," The New York Times, June 16, 2002
Earliest Citation:
The margins of some shallow lakes bear drunken trees indicating that permafrost beneath them has thawed.
— Maurice-K. Seguin et al., "Hydrogeophysical Investigation of the Wolf Creek Watershed, Yukon Territory, Canada," Wolf Creek Research Basin Planning Workshop, March 1998
Notes:
I'm not sure if these trees are considered to be "drunk" because they have so much water beneath them as a result of the melting (so they'd "drink to excess") or because the melting causes the trees to tilt at various angles, thus making them appear inebriated. The latter seems more plausible to my inner metaphor broker.
Note, too, that in South America there's a tree called Chorisia speciosa that, because of its twisted shape, is nicknamed "the drunken tree" (in Spanish it's palo borracho, "drunken stick").
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  • Drunken trees — Not to be confused with the floss silk tree, also known as the drunken tree or palo borracho. A drunken forest in Siberia caused by melting permafrost. NASA photo. Drunken trees, tilted trees, or a drunken forest, is a stand of trees displaced… …   Wikipedia

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