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Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly

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posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 02:45 PM
I thought this was pretty interesting and thought others might like to check it out.

Generally when people think of exposure to radiation, long term or otherwise. They think of mutant superpowers, giant lizards with an insatiable desire for saki, or three eyed fish. Well until you do a little bit of research anyway. But a decay inhibitor is not something I ever associated with radiation.

In the areas with no radiation, 70 to 90 percent of the leaves were gone after a year. But in places where more radiation was present, the leaves retained around 60 percent of their original weight. By comparing the mesh with the panty hose-lined bags, they found that insects play a significant role in getting rid of the leaves, but that the microbes and fungi played a much more important role. Because they had so many bags placed in so many different locations, they were able to statistically control for outside factors such as humidity, temperature and forest and soil type to make sure that there wasn’t anything besides radiation levels impacting the leaves’ decomposition.

Stars mark sites where the researchers put the leaf bags, with colors corresponding to levels of radiation.

Because they had so many bags placed in so many different locations, they were able to statistically control for outside factors such as humidity, temperature and forest and soil type to make sure that there wasn’t anything besides radiation levels impacting the leaves’ decomposition.

They were very thorough in how they conducted their sampling, so there is little chance anything other than the radiations effect on the microbial decay mechanisms are the cause.
Not exactly the effect I would have imagined long term radiation exposure would produce. Anyway

And if that's not enough fun for you, there is still the threat of a catastrophic nuclear firestorm for your doom porn fix.

Other studies have found that the Chernobyl area is at risk of fire, and 27 years’ worth of leaf litter, Mousseau and his colleagues think, would likely make a good fuel source for such a forest fire. This poses a more worrying problem than just environmental destruction: Fires can potentially redistribute radioactive contaminants to places outside of the exclusion zone, Mousseau says. “There is growing concern that there could be a catastrophic fire in the coming years,” he says.

Cool stuff!


posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 02:54 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

Thanks, this is interesting as I too would have thought opposite. I guess
the microbes & fungi are doing their part in bioremediation. Nice to see
something positive come out of that mess. The fire hazard seems a bit scary.


posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 02:55 PM
I wonder how other life forms decay in the high radiation zones. If radiation is killing off bacteria and microbes, that could have a whole lot of interesting implications elsewhere.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 03:02 PM
reply to post by Skadi_the_Evil_Elf

Incidentally, since people have left the area. The plant and animal life are doing pretty well actually.

Wildlife thriving after nuclear disaster? Radiation from Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear accidents not as harmful to wildlife as feared

Professor Smith, an environmental physicist at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, said: "I wasn't really surprised by these findings -- there have been many high profile findings on the radiation damage to wildlife at Chernobyl but it's very difficult to see significant damage and we are not convinced by some of the claims. "We can't rule out some effect on wildlife of the radiation, but wildlife populations in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl have recovered and are actually doing well and even better than before because the human population has been removed."

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 03:30 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

Behold. The evidence for evolution grows stronger.
It's interesting tho. But, we already see effects like this in our everyday lives. Use sanitary procedures to rid bacteria and other nasty microscopic diseases, and our lives become healthier, and in turn we live a long time, same story with this.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 03:40 PM
reply to post by strongfp

Kinda, decaying plant matter fills a big ecological niche in the food chain though. Who knows how this might effect things another 25 or 50 years from now?

But hey, I'm no botanist. I just think we should keep an eye on this little inadvertent science lab.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 03:46 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

In a quick theory, I think more insects will thrive, which will in turn bring in a larger bird and bat population, or maybe an ant population will take advantage of this? I hope some student or scientist takes advantage of this whole scenario and keeps data on it for a long time! It's a perfect clean slate rid of humans to see life almost starting out again, but with little to no bacteria!

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 04:00 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

Finally! A strong case for the nuclear cigar humidifier!

I'm actually wondering how many venture capitalists are already dreaming up of ways to "help" humanity with this news.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 04:05 PM
the idea might make a good Mickey Mouse rad detector
canary in the coal mine type stuff

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 05:01 PM
To assess the health of an ecosystem, two areas to evaluate are the apex predators and the microbes. Other species, such as amphibians, can give estimates as to water quality and so forth. If those populations are healthy, then all the organisms in between should theoretically be healthy as well. While the zone is remarkable with respect to the amount of biodiversity and viability considering the disaster that occurred there, I think such a fundamental process of decay being inhibited is likely not a good sign (long term).

And if one thinks about it, the results of this study makes sense. Faster reproducing organisms and cells are generally more susceptible to the mutagenic effects of radiation- any errors get propagated faster with less chance for repair. Think of radiation therapy for cancer: the intestinal epithelial cells have a high turnover in terms of cell division, and are ravaged by the process.

I think this study highlights that while nature is resilient, it is still fragile. Poor soil quality and chances of fire could really snuff out the life forms that have eeked out a living in the shadow of such a catastrophe.

By the way, some cool documentaries:

Radioactive Wolves of Chernobyl

Chernobyl: Life in the Deadzone

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 05:42 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

Has everybody forgotten about the push a few years ago to radiate food so that it would have a shelf life without refrigeration? True, the radiation was of a different type, but evidently there is a wide range of that "preservation" effect.

Did anybody read the part that says microbes and fungi play an important part in the decomposition of organic materials?
Was the reason for the lack of breakdown of the leaves from lack of those forces, or more substantial leaves?
Either way, not comforting when you mess with Mother Nature.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 07:06 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

I wonder if it has something to do with radiation killing microbes. Like, fewer infections and diseases in the area because the radiation is killing the bacteria and fungi. So, animals thrive better in the more sterile environment.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 07:13 PM
Forgive me if im wrong here but dont we need bacteria to continue the cycle of life?

Doesnt the bacteria return the plant matter to natural state and feed nutrients and nitrates to the plants?

Wont this lead to a dead forest eventually?

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 08:45 PM
reply to post by watchitburn

This makes sense. Irradiated food remains fresh much longer. I'm not talking about food that is contaminated with radiation, but simply food that has been subjected to a high dose burst of radiation to kill of microbes..

Despite substantial efforts in avoidance of contamination, an upward trend in the number of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses caused by nonsporeforming pathogenic bacteria are reported in many countries. Good hygienic practices can reduce the level of contamination but the most important pathogens cannot presently be eliminated from most farms nor is it possible to eliminate them by primary processing, particularly from those foods which are sold raw. Several decontamination methods exist but the most versatile treatment among them is the processing with ionizing radiation. Decontamination of food by ionizing radiation is a safe, efficient, environmentally clean and energy efficient process. Irradiation is particularly valuable as an endproduct decontamination procedure.

posted on Mar, 14 2014 @ 09:59 PM
reply to post by FatherStacks

I think such a fundamental process of decay being inhibited is likely not a good sign (long term).

Good point. So the forest litter builds into a hella fire potential which if it burns will be too hot and destroy more seeds in the topsoil, reducing new growth when the forest returns.

Ongoing benefits: the radioactive contamination will be caught up in the drifting smoke (heading wherever) and also remain in the ash on the forest floor. Fallout is not destroyed by fire.

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