Research, Technology

New lakes pop up in Alaska with 'unpleasant surprise'

The fact that the climate on Earth is gradually changing,surprise no one - messages about this are already rather tired. But this phenomenon cannot be ignored, because these changes will certainly affect our lives. In early 2022, scientists became aware that the sharp melting of glaciers in Greenland led to a rise in global sea levels. Based on the latest satellite data, it was found that over the past 20 years, the huge ice-covered island has lost about 5,100 billion tons of ice - this has raised the level of the world's seas by as much as 1.2 centimeters. But the problems don't end there, because glaciers are melting everywhere. Recently, scientists shared another disturbing news - in Alaska, lakes are formed from melt water, in which there is one "unpleasant surprise".

New lakes are forming in Alaska that cause alarm among scientists

New lakes in Alaska

The fact that lakes with melted ice are formed in Alaskawater, it became known as a result of the NASA expedition. Scientifically, they are usually called thermokarst lakes - they appear when permafrost thaws underground due to high air temperature and collapses part of the surface, forming a funnel. Thawed water quickly flows into the recess, in which disturbing components were found.

Thermokarst lakes pose a great danger to people

According to the researchers, for severaldecades of thermokarst lakes in Alaska is becoming more and more. Some of them, like Big Trail Lake, are the subject of active study. This is being done by experts from the Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), a special NASA project. In the course of studying the meltwater in the new lakes, it was found that they are teeming with bacteria, which emit methane in huge quantities - an explosive gas that creates a greenhouse dome above the Earth.

See also: Previously unknown bacteria and viruses found on human skin

Dangerous bacteria in lakes

Scientists believe that these bacteria have beenhave been frozen for many years. After the perennial ice melted, they broke free and began to feed on organic matter, which is rich in the soil of Alaska. Microbes in Big Trail Lake produce so much methane that bubbles can be seen on the surface of the water. So, at least, say the researchers.

The situation in Big Trail Lake can be compared toopening the freezer door and throwing all the food to be eaten by microbes that actively emit methane in the course of their life, - explained ecologist Katie Walter (Katey Walter).

The danger of methane-producing bacteria isthat they exacerbate the already developed global warming. Methane is short-lived, but it is 25 times more efficient than carbon dioxide in terms of retaining heat on the Earth's surface. The second danger of methane is that it is explosive - if you fill a bottle with it and light a match near the hole, it will cause a sharp burst of flame. Bacteria are dangerous even on their own, even if they do not emit methane - being very ancient, they can turn out to be the causative agents of diseases to which people have no immunity, no vaccines, and even drugs.

Methane bubbles at Big Trail Lake

Researchers collect methane in a bottle

When fire is brought to the bottle, methane ignites

Global warming climate: disaster inevitable?

Danger of melting glaciers

According to IFL Science, permafrostcovers about 23.3 million square kilometers of the northern hemisphere of our planet. To get a better sense of scale, one can think of the combined territories of the United States, China, and Canada. Glaciers are constantly melting, and at higher latitudes this process proceeds very rapidly.

Scientists observe melting glaciers almost everywhere

It should be noted that thermokarst lakes are alsoavailable in Siberia. In April 2022, it was found that every year they accumulate up to 8 million tons of carbon. In total, the bottom sediments of thermokarst lakes in Western Siberia contain up to 1.3 billion tons of carbon. Experts fear that in the future most of the organic carbon reserves will enter the Earth's atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide and methane.

Thermokarst lake in Siberia. Source: TSU

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About what mass melting of glaciers threatenshumanity and planet Earth, scientists already know. Basically, the danger lies in the rise in the level of the world's oceans - as a result of this phenomenon, many cities of the world may be under water. This will certainly lead to the death of people, animals and plants. With the disappearance of glaciers, the Earth will become increasingly hot, because the ice reflects some of the sunlight, thereby protecting us from overheating. If you are interested in the details, read the material of my colleague Lyubov Sokovikova - everything is written there.