Grace Smith | November 18, 2022
Hundreds of thousands of tons of bacteria are being released annually into the air through melting glaciers in the northern latitudes, a study in the Communications Earth & Environment reported. Glaciers melting because of global warming could cause a release of 650,000 tons of carbon a year for the next 80 years in the northern hemisphere.
Scientists from the journal collected data from eight glaciers across Europe and North America and found that tens of thousands of microbes are in each milliliter of water. This data helped the researchers to estimate that the bacteria being swept through streams and water would be 650,000 tons of carbon a year.
“We are seeing the glaciers die before our eyes, affecting the microbes that are there, with implications for us locally and globally,” Dr. Arwyn Edwards, a member of the study team told The Guardian. “The mass of microbes released is vast even with moderate warming.”
Edwards said the researchers don’t have enough data to determine the threat of the organisms, but they will continue conducting data to assess the risk of each microbe.