Glaciers holds safety from Pathogenic Viruses

Environmental Services & Equipment-art1

In this covid situation, we all understand what viruses look like, we are still watching how far things can go when a virus spreads at extreme levels. I hope we all know that Pathogenic viruses are viruses that infect human cells, multiply and cause disease. The constant emergence and recurrence of pathogenic viruses have become a major threat to public health for centuries. Pathogens can be transmitted in different ways depending on the type. It can spread by contact with skin, body fluids, airborne particles, contact with dirt, and contact with the face of an infected person. Covid-19 is the most dangerous and harmful pathogenic virus to date and it’s also affecting Earth’s atmosphere. Scientists from the Ohio State University say that Earth’s crust will carry evidence of COVID-19 (coronavirus) likely for the rest of Earth’s long timeline. That’s because of both environmental signs of a global pandemic and the way pathogens like viruses are effectively “flash frozen” in snow and ice.    

 Hundreds of isolates of viable bacteria and fungi have been recovered from ancient ice and permafrost. Evidence supports the hypothesis that viral pathogens also are preserved in ice repositories, such as glaciers, ice sheets, and lake ice. Twenty-eight new viruses believed to be 15,000 years old have been discovered surviving inside glaciers. The viruses, which are unlike those known to science, were found in ice samples drilled from the Guliya ice cap in the Tibetan Plateau, in western China. The scientists identified 33 viral genomes in total, and at least 28 of them are novel, they said.

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 the Himalayas, are rapidly shrinking, primarily due to the anthropogenic-enhanced warming of the earth’s ocean-atmosphere system. Such melting will not only lead to the loss of those ancient, archived microbes and viruses but also release them to the environment in the future. To begin accessing these archived microbes and viruses, scientists expanded upon prior in silico and experimental decontamination methods to remove microbial contaminants from ice core surfaces and optimized similar preparation methods for viruses.

Researchers from China and the U.S. embarked on a field trip to Tibet in 2015, and discovered 28 previously undiscovered virus groups—in a melting glacier. The researchers drilled a 164-foot hole into the glacier, gathered two ice core samples from the 15,000-year-old glacier, and then later identified them in a lab. In total, they identified 33 virus groups—28 of which were completely new to science. Meltwater from glaciers and ice caps could ferry harmful pathogens along streams, rivers, and other important waterways, potentially exposing humans to new microbes, the researchers report. But ice isn’t the only thing that’s melting. Thawing permafrost, a frozen layer of earth found in high latitudes and at elevation, creates its own unique set of challenges.          

Are we responsible?

Since the early 1900s, many glaciers around the world have been rapidly melting. Human activities are at the root of this phenomenon. Specifically, since the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions have raised temperatures, even higher in the poles, and as a result, glaciers are rapidly melting, calving off into the sea and retreating on land. Scientists project that if emissions continue to rise unchecked, the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer as soon as the year 2040 as ocean and air temperatures continue to rise rapidly. Even if we significantly curb emissions in the coming decades, more than a third of the world’s remaining glaciers will melt before the year 2100. When it comes to sea ice, 95% of the oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic is already gone.

Can we stop it?

If we don’t stop now, the glaciers will melt rapidly and there will be no glaciers found in the future. We all know that no glacier means all the viruses the glaciers have been holding on to for centuries will burst out into the environment, causing an outbreak that can destroy all life forms on earth. So, it is every individual’s responsibility to minimize the release of harmful and deadly emissions into the earth’s environment and protect glaciers from melting. 

–       Amrin

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