Did you know that due to global warming, the virus inside the permafrost that had been frozen until now is being discharged due to melting? How to prevent the spread of the virus? I have to think about it.
"Time bomb of the earth" Crisis caused by permafrost melting Warming gas and pathogen release
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[January 20th AFP] Due to the effects of global warming, there are concerns about the melting of permafrost over a wide area. Permafrost contains billions of tons of greenhouse gases, but thawing may not only release them into the atmosphere, but may also release pathogens that have been trapped in ice for many years. Scientists warn.
■ A quarter of the land in the Northern Hemisphere
Permafrost refers to soil in a frozen state, but unlike its name, it is not necessarily "permanently" frozen. Most are located in the Northern Hemisphere, covering about a quarter of its land. It usually remains frozen for thousands of years and can range in depth from a few meters to 100 meters.
Permafrost extends to the Arctic and northern forests across Alaska, Canada, northern Europe, and Russia. Although not as large as the Northern Hemisphere, it also exists in the Andes Mountains and Antarctica in South America.
■ Almost twice as much carbon in the atmosphere
Permafrost contains an estimated 1.7 trillion tons of carbon in the form of organic matter, which is the dead bodies of frozen ancient plants and animals.
When the permafrost is thawed, organic matter is warmed, decomposed, and finally released as greenhouse gases carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane. Permafrost holds almost twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, most of which is methane and CO2.
■ A vicious cycle of global warming
The release of greenhouse gases due to the melting of permafrost is determined by the Paris Agreement, an international framework for global warming countermeasures signed in 2015, which compares the global temperature rise with that before the Industrial Revolution. It jeopardizes the effort target of keeping it at 1.5 degrees.
CO2 is considered to be the biggest cause of global warming, but the greenhouse effect of methane is 25 times that of CO2. When greenhouse gases of permafrost are released into the atmosphere, global warming may worsen, ice may melt, and permafrost may melt, leading to a vicious cycle of global warming.
Susan Natali, a researcher at the Woods Hole Research Center in Massachusetts, said in 2015 that permafrost would be in permafrost by 2100, even if global warming subsided to around two degrees Celsius. It points out that 30% will be lost.
In a study, Natali pointed out that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current pace, up to 70% of permafrost could be lost. "Emissions from permafrost (greenhouse gas) can cause global warming. It is possible that global warming will be out of control. "
■ Frozen pathogens and viruses
Melting of permafrost may lead to the release of pathogens and viruses that have been trapped in ice for a long time.
This has already become a reality. In 2016, a child died of anthrax in Siberia, Russia. Scientists point out that the cause was the thaw of the permafrost where the reindeer carcass, which died in anthrax 70 years ago, was buried. A herd of grazing livestock is believed to have been infected with anthrax released from the carcasses of thawed reindeer.
Scientists have warned that other pathogens that have been buried in frozen soil, such as the tombs of old smallpox patients due to global warming, and are sleeping in the ice may resume activity.
■ Infrastructure crisis
Melting permafrost is good news for the oil and mining industries. This is because it will allow access to reserves that were previously difficult to reach.
However, there are concerns that it will have a serious impact on infrastructure, such as the occurrence of landslides and damage to buildings, roads, and oil pipelines.
According to a 2009 report released by the environmental group Greenpeace, the melting of permafrost in Russia has caused deformation and collapse of buildings, bridges and pipelines, with annual repair costs in western Siberia. It is said that it has reached 1.3 billion euros (about 162 billion yen).