The glaciers of the Earth shrink – and quickly. Recent research suggests that glacier melting is 18% higher than previously thought and five times faster than in the 1960s.
This is a bulldozer with polar bear real estate. This also causes the rise of sea level, the altitude of extreme weather conditions and the reappearance of old diseases. In short, it is not good.
Now, it seems that there is another thing we should be concerned about – nuclear fallout buried in all this snow and ice. Radioactive icebergs look like a shady device in a whimsical disaster Geostorm. And yet, emerging research presented at the General Assembly of the European Geoscience Union (EGU) this year suggests that radioactive debris stored in glaciers could really be a ticking time bomb.
"Research on the impact of nuclear accidents has already focused on their effects on human health and ecosystems in non-glacial areas," said lead researcher Caroline Clason of the University of Plymouth in a communicated.
"But it is becoming increasingly clear that cryoconite on glaciers can effectively accumulate radionuclides to potentially dangerous levels."
This is the first time that an international team of researchers is committed to analyzing the nuclear content of glaciers in the Arctic, Antarctic, Alps and Caucasus, from British Columbia and Iceland. Their results reveal levels of radioactive material of human origin in each of the 17 sites studied. These concentrations were often 10 times higher (or higher) than those of non-glacial sites.
The explanation of this particularly high concentration is explained by the dispersion of radioactive particles after a nuclear disaster such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. These particles are light and can travel far.
Normally, they return to the ground as acid rain, where they can be absorbed by the soil or consumed by plants. As a result, higher concentrations of radioactivity in places like Chernobyl and Fukushima – and subsequently, higher cancer rates, higher rates of infertility and the existence of a radioactive boar. However, some of these particles will move into colder regions where they will fall onto the Earth as snow, land on ice, settle in heavier sediments and accumulate in denser concentrations.
The team analyzed the materials and not only discovered nuclear fallout from Chernobyl and Fukushima, two nuclear accidents, but also discovered materials from decades of nuclear weapons testing.
"We are talking about gun trials from the 1950s and 1960s, dating back to the early days of bomb development," Clason told The Associated Press.
"If we take a core of sediment, you can see a clear tip where Chernobyl was, but you can also see a fairly definite peak around 1963, when there was a period of heavy weapons tests . "
Although research shows that radioactive materials in the food chain are definitely not good for you, it has not yet been determined with precision what the presence of these nuclear fallout means. The team hopes to find out.
"Several very recent field studies have revealed very high concentrations of radionuclides, but their precise impact remains to be established," said Clason.
"Our collaborative work is beginning to address this problem as it is clearly important that the pro-glacial environment and downstream communities understand all the invisible threats they may face in the future."[H/T: AFP]