Melting Glaciers Contain 15000 Virus Microbe, New Study
We don’t need a reminder of how and what the pandemic of 2020 was. From online offices and schools to fighting for essential goods, to hospital entries. We were a part of a historical event that our future generations will read about and term us brave for surviving the biggest pandemic in the history of pandemics. Things have slowly but steadily started coming back to normal- not entirely as some places are still recording COVID-19 cases and putting restrictions in some regions. Experts now say that the next pandemic may have melting ice as a cause.
New studies say that viruses and bacteria buried in glaciers may reawake and infect the wildlife around. Due to climate change, especially if their ranges move closer to the poles.
This finding is not farfetched as just in 2016, an anthrax outbreak hit northern Siberia killing a child and infesting around 7 people. A heatwave that melted permafrost was what caused this outbreak and exposed the population to this virus which had its last outbreak in 1941.
Glaciers all over the world are melting rapidly and intensely as global climate change intensifies. Genetic research on soil has discovered risks of viral spillover and viruses infecting new hosts. When a virus encounters a new host, it may infect it and spread chronically in this new host. This process is known as viral spillover.
33 viruses that were frozen for more than 15,000 years have been found by scientists examining glaciers, of which 28 are unique viruses that were previously unknown to humans. The recently discovered viruses were identified in a glacier in Tibet that is melting as a result of global warming.
The novel genome sequences found in the frozen time capsule may provide insight into how these microorganisms have evolved over thousands of years and how the climate has altered. Nearly 22,000 feet above sea level in Tibet, the ice samples were taken from the summit of the Guliya ice cap.
The current discovery may offer researchers enticing new insights into historical environmental changes since it is thought that the preserved viruses may have originated from soil or plants.
“Glaciers potentially archive environmental conditions and microbes over tens to hundreds of thousands of years. Unfortunately, glaciers around the world, including those from Tibetan Plateau and Himalayas, are rapidly shrinking, primarily due to the warming of Earth’s ocean-atmosphere system,” researchers said.