"Factor X" may be hidden in the Earth's glaciers: scientists sound the alarm

Alina MilsentNews
Dangerous viruses can sleep in glaciers for thousands of years

Global warming is one of the main threats facing humanity. Glacial melting not only destroys ecosystems, but can also cause the spread of potential pathogens.

Dangerous viruses have been "sleeping" in permafrost for tens of thousands of years, but global warming is likely to wake them up. Science Alert explains what "factor X" is and what the danger of glacial melting is.

Viruses that have been dormant for millennia

Birgitta Evengård, an infectious disease specialist at Umeå University, spoke about the existence of "factor X", about which scientists do not know much. She emphasized the need to improve surveillance and identify potential side effects in the Arctic.

If the situation becomes critical, most epidemics are likely to arise from a new source, such as wildlife populations. Studies have shown that outbreaks of zoonotic infections are increasing in both number and diversity, with the number of deaths expected to rise by an average of almost 10% annually.

Such statistics do not even take into account global disease outbreaks, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which are also expected to occur with increasing frequency.

A leap in time


Scientists from the University of Ottawa used DNA and RNA sequencing to analyze viruses existing in the soil and water of Lake Hazen. The study, published in 2022, noted that permafrost regions could become "fertile ground for new pandemics."

Earlier, OBOZ.UA reported that viruses that scientists have never encountered were found in the ocean.

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