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Hood and Scott hypothesize that forests that lived along the Gulf of Alaska between 2,500 to 7,000 years ago were covered by glaciers, and this organic matter is now coming out. "The organic matter in heavily glaciated watersheds is labile, like sugar. Microorganisms appear to be metabolizing ancient carbon and as the microorganisms die and decompose, biodegradable dissolved organic carbon is being flushed out with the glacier melt," said Scott.
How much? "Our findings suggest that runoff from glaciers may be a quantitatively important source of bioavailable organic carbon for coastal ecosystems in the Gulf of Alaska and, as a result, future changes in glacier extent may impact the food webs in this region that support some of the most productive fisheries in the United States," said Hood.
Star and flag! This question is a good one. I seem to remember Russian scientists finding viable influenza virus in meltwater from glaciers in Siberia recently.
Originally posted by x2Strongx
7000 year old organic matter... I wonder if there can be some prehistoric disease that can come from this?
Recently, researchers found the genetic material (RNA, in this case) encoding the H1 protein, in Siberian lake ice . The lake that had the highest populations of migratory birds also had the highest amount of H1 RNA. Of the three lakes sampled, 83 H1 RNA sequences were found in the lake frequented by migratory waterfowl, and only 1 H1 RNA sequence was found in another lake that had few avian visitors. In the third lake, where there were few bird visits, no H1 could be found. Were the migrating birds depositing viruses into the water during the summer months which persisted during the winter when frozen? Was this a source of infection for the incoming migratory birds the following spring? It has long been known that wild birds harbor influenza viruses in their gastrointestinal tract which are then shed in feces and from their upper respiratory tract. It is possible that various subtypes of influenza viruses are preserved from year to year in northern lakes through this avian deposition mechanism. Moreover, this could be exacerbated with global warming and the melting of glacial ice.