Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria have already entered the environment from melting glaciers

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists believe that awakened microorganisms can both enrich ecosystems and turn out to be dangerous pathogens.

Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria are released when glaciers melt. This conclusion was made by the researchers of the scientific project “Disappearing Glaciers”.

The scientists collected surface meltwater from eight glaciers in Europe and North America, as well as two sites on the Greenland ice cap. They found tens of thousands of microbes in every drop of fluid they took.

The data allowed them to estimate that leaching bacteria and algae would produce an average of 650,000 tons of carbon per year over the next 80 years in the Northern Hemisphere.

This estimate assumes continued moderate growth in CO2 emissions. If carbon emissions are reduced and global warming and ice melt are slowed, the mass of microbes released will be reduced by about a third.

The researchers noted that microorganisms from melting ice could benefit local ecosystems and provide useful molecules that could help create new antibiotics. At the same time, the possibility of the emergence of dangerous pathogens cannot be ruled out.

“We don’t have enough data to understand the value and threat of these organisms. I regularly get inquiries about whether the “doomsday pathogen” will emerge from melting glaciers.

I think that such a probability is very unlikely, but it is non-zero. So we need to better understand these microbes,” said microbiologist Arwin Edwards of Aberystwyth University in Wales.


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