Geological Time Bomb Hidden Under Alaska Leaves Experts In Disbelief
Well, the world we know today has changed from what it was just a few months ago. A few months ago, no one knew that we’d all be sitting at home, under quarantine, and in complete lockdown. No one could have predicted for sure that there was going to be a pandemic, the COVID-19, that we’d all face together, just a safe distance away. As if this wasn’t catastrophic enough, now there’s another geological time bomb under Alaska that has left experts completely shocked. Welcome to Alaska, a wild and beautiful place that is home to over 700,000 people. Before the climate change in Alaska, secrets that were buried in permafrost remained buried for thousands of years, but after climate change, these secrets have started to emerge, and according to experts, have the potential to wreak havoc across the globe. Yes, this is a geological time bomb waiting to explode.
It was during the 1960s when researchers from the U.S. Army decided to dig a tunnel close to the city of Fairbanks. The aim of digging this tunnel was to understand and study permafrost, a type of ground that remains frozen for years at a stretch and is found beneath approximately 85 percent of Alaska. Naturally, these researchers were in for a shock when they discovered more than the permafrost – they indirectly excavated bones, mammoth tusks, woolly rhinos, ancient plants, and everything else that ever walked the land, because it was all preserved in the permafrost. Oh, and they also discovered a type of bacteria that could destroy humans – the Bacillus anthracis. We’ll get to that in a bit.
What worried experts more is that since the permafrost is beginning to melt slowly, everything it has preserved is made from carbon. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers geochemist Dr. Thomas Douglas, there’s twice as much carbon trapped in the permafrost as is currently in the Earth’s atmosphere. So naturally, if the permafrost begins to melt, the amount of carbon it releases can change the world as we know today. To know the kind of impact the carbon will make, scientists took permafrost samples to their lab and allowed them to slowly warm up. But apart from carbon emission, something strange happened – ancient bacteria called Bacillus anthracis, which was frozen for 25,000 years, came back to life.
This bacteria, which is associated with biological warfare, is one that causes anthrax – an infection that can be fatal to humans. If anthrax spores are accidentally inhaled, death can occur within 24 to 48 hours. So yes, melting permafrost is slowly releasing this bacteria back into the world. In case you’re wondering, there’s no way to stop permafrost from melting away. So apart from the bacteria, melting permafrost can also emit humongous amounts of methane and carbon dioxide – the two gases that are responsible for climate change. According to experts, permafrost around the world has currently trapped approximately 1,400 gigatons of carbon – four times more than humans have produced in the last 260 years!
If the permafrost melts, it can expose underground reservoirs that can expel methane into the atmosphere. So, when large amounts of methane and carbon dioxide are released, it can cause our planet to heat up by 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next 100 years.
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