Scientists from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne have discovered that the rapid melting of glaciers releases unique bacteria and microbes that were hidden from people under the veil of ice.
This was reported on Thursday, November 17, by The Guardian newspaper.
“We are seeing glaciers melt rapidly, releasing hundreds of thousands of unique microbes that were not previously known,” said Arvin Edwards, co-author of the study. “We do not yet have complete information to understand the value of these bacteria or their danger,” he added.
Experts believe that some microbes may find medical applications in the future, especially in the production of new antibiotics. However, some researchers fear that people and animals are not immune to microbes that have been hiding glaciers for millions of years, which could lead to serious epidemics.
Scientists from the Disappearing Glaciers Project undertake expeditions around the world to collect samples and study the biodiversity of glaciers.
Melting rates have increased significantly over the past two decades. In 2000-2010, this figure was about 44.4 billion tons per year, and in the next decade it increased to 51.9 billion tons per year.