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Melting Arctic permafrost could unleash Cold Ware era nuclear waste and antibiotic-resistant viruses

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Deep beneath the Arctic’s permafrost lies Cold War nuclear waste and deadly pathogens that could soon surface from rapidly melting ice, a new study suggests.

A team of scientists from Aberystwyth University warns that by 2100, up to two-thirds of the Arctic’s surface permafrost could be lost to climate change as the area warms at as much as three times the average global rate.

The researchers highlight the 130 nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere by the Soviet Union from 1995 to 1990 that left behind high levels of radioactive materials.

In addition to nuclear waste, there are currently hundreds of microorganisms frozen in the ice.

As the permafrost thaws, there is a chance that these bacteria will mix with meltwater and create new antibiotic-resistant strains of existing viruses.

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

The nuclear waste, if released, can be toxic to humans and animals, and the thousands-year-old viruses can be harmful to society if they also escape the icy prison.

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A team of scientists from Aberystwyth University warns that by 2100, up to two-thirds of the Arctic’s surface permafrost could be lost to climate change as the area warms at as much as three times the average global rate.

In 2016, in Siberia, the thawed permafrost exposed a 70-year-old reindeer carcass infected with anthrax, killing a child and afflicting several other people, according to the report. Observer Research Foundation.

Permafrost, or permanently frozen land, covers about nine million square miles in the Arctic.

Most Arctic permafrost dates back to about 1 million years ago and 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 locked in an icy cage for more than millennia.

The researchers highlight the 130 nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere by the Soviet Union from 1995 to 1990 that left behind high levels of radioactive materials.  The nation tested its Tsar Bomba device over the Barents Sea in 1961 (photo)

The researchers highlight the 130 nuclear weapons tested in the atmosphere by the Soviet Union from 1995 to 1990 that left behind high levels of radioactive materials. The nation tested its Tsar Bomba device over the Barents Sea in 1961 (photo)

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, Reader in Biology at Aberystwyth University and lead author of the study, said in a pronunciation“Changes in the climate and ecology of the Arctic will affect every part of the planet as it returns carbon to the atmosphere and raises sea levels.

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

“We need to know more about the fate of these harmful microbes and pollutants and nuclear material to properly understand the threats they can pose.”

The Russian nuclear tests used 224 individual explosives that released about 265 megatons of nuclear energy.

The nation disposed of more than 100 decommissioned nuclear submarines in the nearby Kara and Barents Seas.

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

“While the Russian government has since launched a strategic clean-up plan, the assessment notes that the area has tested highly for the radioactive substances cesium and plutonium, among undersea sediment, vegetation and ice sheets,” the team shared in a press release.

The US has also contributed to nuclear waste in the permafrost with their nuclear-powered sub-ice research facility Camp Century in Greenland.  The facility was decommissioned in 1967, causing waste to accumulate under the ice

The US has also contributed to nuclear waste in the permafrost with their nuclear-powered sub-ice research facility Camp Century in Greenland. The facility was decommissioned in 1967, causing waste to accumulate under the ice

The US has also contributed to nuclear waste in the permafrost with their nuclear-powered sub-ice research facility Camp Century in Greenland.

The facility was decommissioned in 1967, causing waste to build up under the ice.

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

Another risk involves fossil fuel byproducts, which have been introduced into permafrost environments since the dawn of the industrial revolution.

The Arctic also contained natural metallic deposits, including arsenic, mercury and nickel, which have been mined for decades and have caused massive pollution from waste material over tens of millions of acres.

When these compounds are released from the permafrost, they can increase food scarcity by poisoning animals and fish in the area that humans depend on for food.

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

THE HISTORY OF CAMP CENTURY

By the time it was abandoned in 1966 when the ice sheet began crushing the camp, soldiers had built two miles of tunnels

By the time it was abandoned in 1966 when the ice sheet began crushing the camp, soldiers had built two miles of tunnels

Camp Century was built in 1959 in northwestern Greenland by the US Army Corps of Engineers, 8 meters below the surface of the ice sheet.

It was one of five bases built near Thule Air Force Base, with the aim of putting Arctic construction techniques and scientific research to rest.

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 as the ice sheet began to crush the camp, soldiers had already built two miles of tunnels and a facility that housed a hospital, theater, church and store for 200 of its residents.

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

The hidden launch site would be capable of firing as many as 600 medium-range ballistic missiles that could reach the Soviet Union.

But in 1963 the plan was brushed aside.

It housed 85 to 200 soldiers during its operation

It housed 85 to 200 soldiers during its operation

Camp Century is completely encased in the ice sheet and is located about 200 miles inland from the Greenland coast.

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

The project, although built with permission from Denmark, was kept secret from the Danish government.

And a few years after it became operational, the camp was dismantled.

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

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 Ice’.

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

“Below that, the ice drops 6,000 feet.

“In this remote setting, less than 800 miles from the North Pole, Camp Century symbolizes man’s relentless goal of conquering his environment, increasing his ability to live and fight under polar conditions if necessary.”

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