Home North pole ice Melting arctic permafrost could release Cold War-era nuclear waste and antibiotic-resistant viruses

Melting arctic permafrost could release Cold War-era nuclear waste and antibiotic-resistant viruses

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Deep beneath the permafrost of the Arctic lies Cold War-era nuclear waste and deadly pathogens that may soon be released to the surface due to the rapid melting of the ice, suggests a new study.

A team of scientists from Aberystwyth University warns that up to two-thirds of the near-surface permafrost of the Arctic could be lost by 2100 due to climate change as the region warms up to three times the average world rate.

Researchers highlight the 130 nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere by the Soviet Union from 1995 to 1990, which left high levels of radioactive substances.

Besides nuclear waste, there are currently hundreds of microorganisms frozen in ice.

As the permafrost thaws, it is possible that these bacteria will mix with the meltwater and create new strains of existing viruses that are resistant to antibiotics.

More than 100 microorganisms in deep permafrost have already been shown to be resistant to antibiotics, according to the study published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change.

Nuclear waste, if released, can be toxic to humans and animals, and the millennial viruses could be damaging to society if they also break free from the frozen prison.

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A team of scientists from Aberystwyth University warns that up to two-thirds of the near-surface permafrost of the Arctic could be lost by 2100 due to climate change as the region warms up to three times the average world rate.

In 2016, thawing permafrost in Siberia exposed a 70-year-old reindeer carcass infected with anthrax, killing a child and affecting several others, according to the Observer Research Foundation.

Permafrost, or permanently frozen ground, covers approximately nine million square miles in the Arctic.

Most arctic permafrost is around 1 million years old, and generally the deeper the level, the older the period from which it originated.

Permafrost is home to everything from microbes to chemical compounds, all of which have been trapped in an icy cage for over a millennium.

Researchers highlight 130 nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere by the Soviet Union from 1995 to 1990, which left high levels of radioactive substances.  The nation tested its Tsar Bomba device over the Barents Sea in 1961 (pictured)

Researchers highlight 130 nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere by the Soviet Union from 1995 to 1990, which left high levels of radioactive substances. The nation tested its Tsar Bomba device over the Barents Sea in 1961 (pictured)

The Tsar Bomba (pictured) exploded with the force of 50 million tons of conventional explosives, or 3,333 times the force of the bomb that razed Hiroshima.

The Tsar Bomba (pictured) exploded with the force of 50 million tons of conventional explosives, or 3,333 times the force of the bomb that razed Hiroshima.

Dr Arwyn Edwards, biology reader at Aberystwyth University and lead author of the study, said in a statement: “Changes in the climate and ecology of the Arctic will influence all parts of the planet because they return carbon to the atmosphere and raise the sea level.

“This review identifies how other risks may arise from a warming Arctic. It has long been a freezer for a range of harmful things, not just greenhouse gases.

“We need to better understand the fate of these harmful microbes, pollutants and nuclear material to fully understand the threats they may pose.”

Russian nuclear tests used 224 separate explosive devices that released around 265 megatons of nuclear energy.

The nation has rejected more than 100 decommissioned nuclear submarines in the neighboring seas of Kara and Barents.

The nation also tested its Tsar Bomba device over the Barents Sea in 1961, which detonated with the force of 50 million tons of conventional explosives – 3,333 times the force of the bomb that razed Hiroshima.

“While the Russian government has since launched a strategic clean-up plan, the review notes that the area has been heavily tested for radioactive cesium and plutonium, between underwater sediments, vegetation and ice caps,” said explained the team in a press release.

The United States has also contributed to nuclear waste in permafrost with its nuclear-powered Camp Century under-ice research facility in Greenland.  The facility was decommissioned in 1967, leaving waste to accumulate under the ice

The United States has also contributed to nuclear waste in permafrost with its nuclear-powered Camp Century under-ice research facility in Greenland. The facility was decommissioned in 1967, leaving waste to accumulate under the ice

The United States has also contributed to nuclear waste in permafrost with its nuclear-powered Camp Century under-ice research facility in Greenland.

The facility was decommissioned in 1967, leaving waste to accumulate under the ice.

The only thing that keeps these harmful emissions from escaping is permafrost.

Another risk relates to fossil fuel byproducts, which have been introduced into permafrost environments since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

The Arctic also contained deposits of natural metals, including arsenic, mercury and nickel, which have been mined for decades and caused enormous waste contamination over tens of millions of hectares.

These compounds, if released from permafrost, could increase food scarcity by poisoning animals and fish in the area humans depend on for food.

Toxic compounds, along with nuclear waste, would also release more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and significantly contribute to climate change.

THE HISTORY OF THE CENTURY CAMP

By the time it was abandoned in 1966 as the ice cap began to crush the camp, soldiers had built two miles of tunnels

By the time it was abandoned in 1966 as the ice cap began to crush the camp, soldiers had built two miles of tunnels

Camp Century was built in 1959 in northwest Greenland by the US Army Corps of Engineers, 8 m below the surface of the ice cap.

It was one of five bases built near Thule Air Base, with the aim of resting arctic construction techniques and scientific research.

The original plan was to build 2,500 miles of tunnels that would have covered an area of ​​52,000 square miles – which is larger than the size of England.

By the time it was abandoned in 1966 due to the ice cap beginning to crush the camp, soldiers had already built three kilometers of tunnels and a facility that included a hospital, theater, church and a store for 200 of its residents.

The real plan was top secret – known as Project Iceworm, ”it was designed as a proof of concept for a planned underground nuclear missile base.

The hidden launch site would be capable of firing up to 600 intermediate-range ballistic missiles that could reach the Soviet Union.

But, the plan was rejected in 1963.

It housed 85 to 200 soldiers during its time of operation

It housed 85 to 200 soldiers during its time of operation

Century Camp is completely enclosed in the ice cap, located about 125 miles inland from the coast of Greenland.

It housed 85 to 200 soldiers during its lifespan, and scientists at the site collected samples of ice cores that are still used in research today.

The project, although it was built with the approval of Denmark, has been kept a secret from the Danish government.

And, several years after its commissioning, the camp was decommissioned.

The United States withdrew a portable nuclear reactor that had provided heat and electricity, but left behind approximately 200,000 liters (53,000 gallons) of diesel fuel and 24,000,000 liters (6,340,000 gallons) wastewater, including sewage, according to an international study published in August.

And, they left behind an unknown amount of low-level radioactive waste and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).

The original plan was to build 2,500 miles of tunnels that would have covered an area of ​​52,000 square miles - which is larger than the size of England.

The original plan was to build 2,500 miles of tunnels that would have covered an area of ​​52,000 square miles – which is larger than the size of England.

Remarkable images shed new light on the “City under the Ice”.

A narrator in the video explains, “Camp Century is buried beneath the surface of this ice cap.

“Below, the ice goes down 6,000 feet.

“In this remote setting, less than 800 miles from the North Pole, Camp Century is a symbol of man’s relentless goal to conquer his environment, to increase his ability to live and fight if necessary in polar conditions. . “


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