As glaciers melt worldwide due to rising global temperatures, more water is entering the oceans and on land. Large craters on Earth have been created as a result of ancient permafrost starting to weaken and melt. This leads to the discovery of more than 1000 potential dangerous microbes that had never been discovered before. A group of researchers from China, Australia, and Denmark, led by scholars from Lanzhou University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, have reported this.
Discovering 1000 Dangerous Microbes from the Glacier
Extreme Tibetan glaciers, according to experts, can sustain a wide variety of species. The researchers don’t now seem to see any threat from the bacteria they have so far found. That doesn’t negate the fact that they pose a threat, though. We still have a long way to go before we have complete knowledge of these ancient bacteria.
Based on an examination of snow and ice samples collected from 21 glaciers between 2010 and 2016, they came to their conclusion.
Between 2010 and 2016, researchers, including those from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, gathered samples of ice from 21 glaciers in Tibet, melted the samples, and then examined the residue. 98% of the 968 distinct bacteria species they discovered were previously undiscovered by science.
Analysis of the genomes of the microbes revealed that several of them have the potential for triggering new pandemics as the rapid melt processes produced by climate change liberate them from their icy prisons.
Potential Threats from Microbes found in Glacier
They discovered through genetic research that the germs had over 27,000 compounds that might aid the bacteria in causing illness in plants, animals, or people, and that over half of these chemicals were previously unidentified.
According to research, “These microbes may carry unique virulence factors that make plants, animals, and people susceptible.” Such contemporary and historical harmful bacteria locked in glaciers “may lead to local outbreaks and possibly pandemics,” the researchers warn.
Explaining extreme Tibetan glaciers is vital, as these glaciers may not be around in a couple of years.
The results are part-due to a study by another team, which recently found several viruses in the 15,000-year-old ice, most of which had never been seen before.
Concerns Regarding the Glacier Melt and the Microbes
There are over 20,000 glaciers on Earth covering roughly 10% of the planet’s land volume, and each glacier will probably have its own unique microbial communities.
Accordingly, it is essential, to understand what kind of microbes we have observed and what types the ice has been inhabiting for years.
Another concern of relentless warming temperatures, however, is how melting glaciers, such as some extreme Tibetan glaciers, are releasing species of potentially dangerous species.
With melting glaciers worldwide melting at an alarming rate, the emanated microbes entering rivers and creeks could enter populated areas with the meltwater, infecting plants, animals, and humans.
Because such glaciers might not actually exist in a few years, it is crucial to study the most severe glaciers in Tibet. The glacier will continue to recede more as long as global temperatures keep rising. The melting might result in the permanent erasure of the bacteria that have existed in these frozen places for ages.