Arctic Ice Melting May Pose 'Novel Threat' as 'Previously Unknown' Microbes Awake, Scientists Warn

The researchers noted that while some of the awakening microbes are actually known to science, a portion of them may have “unpredictable behavior after release”.

The ongoing thawing of glaciers and permafrost in various corners of the Earth, it remains unclear what consequences it might lead to as dormant organisms previously remained encased in deep layers of frozen ground begin to wake up, researchers who authored an article published in Scientific American magazine warn.

The article, published on 20 November, was penned by Kimberley Miner, specialist in climate change risk and an assistant professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute; Arwyn Edwards, specialist in paraglacial microbial environments at Aberystwyth University; and Charles Miller, specialist in carbon cycling and the vulnerability of the Arctic system to change.

Noting that permafrost covers about 24 percent of our planet’s land surface, the scientists point out how “Arctic lands offer unexplored microbial biodiversity and microbial feedbacks”, with some layers possibly harboring “ancient frozen microbes, Pleistocene megafauna and even buried smallpox victims”.

While some of these microbes are known to the science, a portion of them may have “unpredictable behavior after release”.

And while the freeze-thaw cycle tends to “degrades more delicate bacterial and viral pathogens”, the spores of Bacillus anthracis, for example, may be an exception, with the researchers pointing at the 2018 anthrax outbreak in Siberia that led to “the death of 200,000 reindeer and a child” and which was allegedly related to permafrost thaw.

And, last but not least, there are also microbes that are “entirely unfamiliar to scientists” and which “may represent a novel threat”, with the researchers noting how, “with the coalescence of microbes reawakening from the deep and surface conditions unprecedented in human history, it is challenging to assess risks accurately without improved Arctic microbial datasets”.

The article, published on 20 November, was penned by Kimberley Miner, specialist in climate change risk and an assistant professor at the University of Maine Climate Change Institute; Arwyn Edwards, specialist in paraglacial microbial environments at Aberystwyth University; and Charles Miller, specialist in carbon cycling and the vulnerability of the Arctic system to change.

Sourse: sputniknews.com

Arctic Ice Melting May Pose ‘Novel Threat’ as ‘Previously Unknown’ Microbes Awake, Scientists Warn

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